We must always be on guard against the way of the world. We must persistently fight against finding our self-worth, status, honor, power, or prestige in something other than Jesus. We might try to find our worth and identity in a girlfriend, a wife, a job, a car, educational accomplishments, or a host of other good things. But nothing compares to Christ. If we look to anything other than Jesus for our self-worth and identity, we look to something that is here today and gone tomorrow. We place our hope in a fleeting moment. But if we look to Christ in the gospel for our self-worth and identity, we look to something that can never be taken from us. We place our hope on the sure foundation. And we find in the countercultural message of the gospel a countercultural worth. In Christ, we are God’s children, and, therefore, we are of great worth. When we grasp that truth, finding our identity in the things of this world will become increasingly deplorable. As Martin Luther so clearly articulates:
If someone could believe with a certain and constant faith and could understand the magnitude of it all, that he is the son and heir of God, he could regard all the power and wealth of all the kingdoms of the world as filth and refuse in comparison with his heavenly inheritance. Whatever the world has that is sublime and glorious would make him sick. . . . If we could grasp and believe for a certainty that God is our Father and that we are his sons and heirs, the world would immediately seem vile to us, with everything that it regards as precious, such as righteousness, wisdom, kingdoms, power, crowns, gold, glory, riches, pleasure, and the like. . . . We would not attach our hearts so firmly to physical things that their presence would give us confidence and their removal would produce dejection and even despair. (LW 26:392–94)
Luther describes the way of joy, peace, satisfaction, humility, gratitude, and the like. But one must think counterculturally to arrive at these things. We must “grasp and believe” that God is our Father in Christ and that we are His children. This thought pattern will inevitably expel wrong thinking: trust in oneself or in the worldly badges of worth, power, honor, and status. Instead, you will begin to think the opposite—that even if everything I possess is removed, I will be unmoved in Christ. Even if I possess all the riches of this world, I will remain unpossessed by anything except Christ. Hold your possessions and accomplishments loosely. Don’t be possessed by them. Fight against viewing them as a source of worth and pride. And instead discover the liberating joy of a countercultural worth in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded daily to “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,” for only Christ can satisfy. May God help us to “grasp and believe” this.
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on April 27, 2018.