From Jesus alone comes our worth and wealth.
What if there was a way to break free from the pressures of riches and success? What if the smile of Jesus—not our financial net worth, reputation, career successes, achievements, body type, religious devotion or moral goodness—became our source of validation? What if success was no longer measured in terms of achievement but in terms of humility, thankfulness, wonder, a life of love, and being faithful in the ordinary mundaneness of life? What if our secret battle with shame was neutered, so we could spend less energy covering ourselves, and more energy loving the people in front of us?
This is my greatest joy as a Christian pastor. I get to tell people that this path exists. Jesus has lifted our shame off of us, nailing it to the cross.
In Jesus, our judgment day was moved from the future to the past.
When Jesus let himself be stripped naked, spit upon, taunted, rejected, and made nothing on the cross—when Jesus—the perfect one who had nothing to be ashamed of—surrendered to the ruthless, relentless shaming and bullying that led to our redemption and healing, he neutered our shame and stripped shame of its power.
He who was wealthy became poor for our sakes, that through his poverty we might become wealthy (2 Corinthians 8:9). But the wealth that Jesus offers is a different kind of wealth. It’s a shame-killing wealth. It’s a love-empowering wealth. It’s an inner resource that gives us certainty, protection, and validation in ways that the London billionaire’s wealth couldn’t give to him. When we are made wealthy in Jesus, we lose the need to be wealthy, or thin, or intelligent, or networked, or famous or any other thing that we have erroneously clung to for dear life.
And the “Jane” in all of us can come out of hiding and share the haunting secret: that we are not self-assured but much afraid, that we do not feel secure but vulnerable, that we act big because we feel insignificant, that we go from zero to sixty in two seconds because we fear invisibility and irrelevance.
The saving, loving, forgiving wealth that Jesus gives invalidates, neuters, and disempowers these fears. It assures us that at our best and at our worst, in Jesus we are fully known and fully loved.
In Jesus we are exposed but not rejected. In Jesus we can be naked and never ashamed.
We are free from ever having to make something of ourselves or to make a name for ourselves. We are free from having to re-write our own stories, from having to fight the shame with validating fig leaf narratives. The name of Jesus is sufficient to name us.
The story of Jesus is sufficient to be our story. His name liberates from preoccupation with self. His grace and love supply the inner resources to turn our hearts and faces toward others, to treat all people as our equals, to love bold and strong and with comprehensive, non-discriminating breadth.
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