I have a tendency to evaluate everything according to its value. I see something new and I immediately have to determine its worth. If I determine that it has great value I want to be associated with it as much as possible.
I believe that sometimes we value things so much that we adapt them as our identity. In doing so we believe that we can actually take on the value of the things we value the most. Therefore, if we are identified with something valuable we, ourselves, will also be valuable by association. So we wear other peoples’ names on our clothes in the form of brands. We cheer for sports teams so we will be identified as winners. We take on the name of celebrities as “Beliebers” (Justin Bieber), “Katycats” (Katy Perry), or “Little Monsters” (Lady Gaga).
What is valuable enough for you to put your identity in? Do you want to be known as the life of the party? Will being the best athlete or smartest student satisfy you? Is it enough be labeled the prettiest girl on campus? Can these identities last forever or will you constantly be searching for something more valuable to put your identity in?
For me, I put my identity in the value of how morally good I thought I was. Generally, we do not want to be known as bad people. We try to justify our actions; usually by comparing ourselves to others we perceive to be much worse than us. We might be bad, but at least we’re not murderers or pedophiles. By comparison we think we are really good people.
I grew up in a family from a religious background, constantly hearing about what was good and what was bad. I thought that if I did something good then everyone would love me, but if I did something bad they wouldn’t love me. It was simple; if I was a good person, then I was valuable enough to be loved. There was one problem though, I was never good enough. Whenever I thought I was doing pretty well I found more pride and lust in my life. The more I tried to be good, the more bad things I found. With every bit of laziness and greed I found I became less and less valuable.
Proving one’s worth is exhausting, isn’t it? One wrong move on the field and you lose a championship. One wrong answer on a test and you no longer have the highest grade in your class. One bad picture on Facebook eclipses 100 good ones. It takes 100 good hair days to forget about one bad hair day.
Sometimes, we carry over this desire to prove our worth into how we relate to God. That was my case. As a child, I heard about how valuable Jesus was every Sunday. Since I wanted to be valuable, I tried to get him to love me in the same way that I tried to gain other people’s love. I thought that if I did something good he would love me and I could go to heaven, but if I did something bad he would hate me and send me to hell.
But I slowly discovered that Jesus is not like that. He loves me no matter what. Jesus is not impressed when I try to be valuable enough for him, nor disappointed when I cannot be. He loves me with a love that does not change depending on what I do or how I feel. He proved this by willingly dying on the cross to pay the price for the bad things I have done (1 John 4:7-21). He proves it by loving me with a love that frees me from trying to be valuable and inviting me to find my value in the His unconditional love instead.
Jesus is not valuable because I say He is. He has always been and always will be infinitely valuable. Instead, I am valuable because He loves a worthless man like me so much that He would die so that I could be valuable enough to know Him and His great love for me. In Jesus I find my true value when he invites me to place my identity in Him, the source of infinite value.