As most of you know, I work for the non-profit ministry Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) in Fishersville. Our mission is “to mobilize the church to transform lives and communities in the Name of Christ.” We meet needs and transform lives by the love of Christ through the Body of Christ (the Church). It’s a great organization which brings unity to the Church and where God works every single day.

If you’re like me (and virtually everyone is), you want to do something of value in your lifetime. Whether it’s raising your children or finding the cure for cancer, we all want to do something of value. We want our lives to matter. I really think that is a universal quality of mankind. Yes, there are some whom are oppressed in one form or another and never get to live out that kind of hope, but I think every human wants to do something that is of value. I chose to work at Love INC because I want to do something of value, too.

However, I think we all get caught up in performancism. We fall into the trap of believing that the more value we contribute to society, the more valuable we are. Tullian Tchividjian writes:

“Performancism is the mind-set that equates our identity and value directly with our performance. Performancism sees achievement not as something we do or don’t do but as something we are or aren’t. How we look, how intelligent we are, how our kids turn out, what people think of us — these things are synonymous with our worth. In the world of performancism, success equals life and failure equals death.”

Think about it. We do this. All of us. It may be subtle, but we do it. We value those who are successful. We treat them better. We cozy up to them. We want to be just like them. If we have a success, we feel like a success. If we fall and fail, we feel like a failure. We create identities based on our behaviors. Tchividjian writes:

“In other words, we’re exhausted because we’re trying to rescue ourselves from a meaningless existence by what we do. We’re weary because we feel the burden to create our own validation. But broken people cannot fix brokenness. We need divine intervention. We need validation, but we can’t muster it ourselves. What an amazing thing, then, that the holy God of the universe, who set the standard for validation higher than we could ever reach, reaches down to us and proclaims over messy sinners who can’t ever get their own act together, ‘Justified!'”

We are ALL of equal value and worth, based on the fact that we all are made in God’s image. We are all incredibly valuable simply because Jesus chose to die for each one of us… and all of us. “For God so loved THE WORLD…” John 3:16 says. All of us. Each of us.

You are loved. You are accepted. You are PRICELESS!

That is the Good News.

Buried Treasure

Did you hear of the couple in California who were digging in their backyard and found a huge collection of gold coins throught to be worth $10 million? Of course you did. How about the 100-year old baseball card collection found in the attic worth over $500,000? Astounding.

Have you ever found something like that? No, not something worth millions or even several thousands of dollars, but something that you didn’t know was there or forgot was there, and when you found it, it was like you discovered it for the very first time? Maybe some old clothes or old photographs of your children? I found something recently and it was like I discovered it for the very first time.

I was raised by parents who valued acheivement and good grades. They were both high achievers themselves and they instilled a work ethic into me and into my two older brothers. We knew the value of hard work. We still do. But when we wanted to rebel, we would get lazy. I can still remember the first time I purposely didn’t do my homework in 5th grade. What a sick feeling I had in my stomach as the bus approached the school!

Until recently, I still felt sick when I failed. When I failed to live up to expectations – either my self-imposed perfectionism or someone else’s – I still had this empty feeling. Truth-be-told, I imagine there are others out there like me.

But over the past several months, I discovered something that was “buried” in my “attic”. And that something is grace.

It’s not that I’ve been rebellious or have fallen into some pit of sin. I haven’t. It’s just that I’ve discovered grace as if for the very first time. No, I haven’t discovered God’s forgiveness for the very first time; I’ve known that and experienced that and am so thankful for that.

What I’ve discovered is that I don’t have to do ANYTHING to experience God’s acceptance and love. I don’t have to “get my act together.” I don’t have to “get serious” about my faith… I’ve already been plenty serious, believe me. I don’t have to “step-it-up” or “take it up another notch” or “double my efforts” or any other cliche you’ve heard before. Jesus has already done all that’s necessary by (literally) His own blood, sweat, and tears. I don’t have to work for it. The work’s already been done. I’ve discovered my utter dependence on Jesus and this loving grace. And utter dependence IS OKAY. Actually, there’s no better place to be. Again, this flies in the face of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” thinking.

This “discovery” or re-discovery has been life-changing. It has been so liberating, especially for the perfectionist like me, always trying to get good grades. And it compels me to live only for Him. It compels me to give my all for Him.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

Incidentally, this kind of liberating grace is annoying to the legalists, those who are still trying to measure performance (either their own or someone else’s). If it rubs you the wrong way, ask yourself (as I did), “How do I measure my righteousness?” Is it by something you do – prayer, Bible-reading, serving, etc.? Or is it only by the blood of Jesus? The blood of Jesus is the only thing that makes you righteous. It’s the only thing that matters.

That, in itself, is liberating. I guess that’s why it’s called Good News.