The Big Lie about our worth
If we get the Big Idea of Worth Season, it protects us from the Big Lie, which is,
"The more you are worth to God, the better life gets for you. He blesses you and protects you more, and he punishes you less."
This lie has some truth to it. God does punish evil and reward good. However, if that is God's basic strategy for validating our worth, we are stuck with three nasty tendencies:
We tend to get stressed by the thought that everything depends on how much we serve God, which means we always have to try a little harder.
We become ungrateful to God for blessings because we think of them as wages not gifts; if we don't get the wages we think we earned, we accuse him of cheating us.
We become less compassionate toward people who are suffering, because we assume they must have done something to deserve it.
If trying to serve God makes people stressed, ungrateful, and hard-hearted, who needs that? It sounds dangerous to get too focused on trying to serve him. So people reason, "Let's be moderate, think about God once in a while, pray in emergencies, and thank him when we get some extra special blessing." That approach to life is perfectly sensible if the Big Lie is the truth.
But what if the Big Lie is a big lie? What if there is a massive disconnect between what God thinks we are worth and how many blessings we are getting? What if we have to sacrifice some blessings or experience some suffering for the advancement of God's campaign? Our pain may be part of God's strategy. It may indicate we put his campaign's welfare above our own.
Why would God allow any "massive disconnect," much less create one?
Because God's basic strategy for healing and blessing the world is more sophisticated than "quid pro quo" ("this for that"). He is developing a global campaign team, a network of people who are willing to accept suffering in order to achieve their mission, and their mission is to connect the world to the King who accepted the most suffering of all, Jesus the Messiah.
Campaign team members have to demonstrate that they are not serving God in order to get more of his blessings. They are out to finish worthily, to complete their risky mission at any price. They are doing what Jesus did, walking the path he walked, "carrying their crosses," trusting God to honor their loyalty in the end even if they endure human shame or lose their lives in the process.
If you SYNC (See Yourself iN Christ), you realize you are part of God's campaign team. The Big Lie is exposed, and it falls apart. The Big Idea of true human worth takes over.
How you can tell if you are falling for the Big Lie?
Very simple. If you believe that because you have lived a reasonably good life, God owes you a long life, good health, and reasonable comfort, you are falling for the Big Lie.
For example, if you say, "God wants me to be happy, so what makes me happy makes God happy. I'll do what makes me happy," the Big Lie has you. You see yourself as the entitled person, and you trust your own internal measures of happiness as your guide.
If you fall for the Big Lie, you will have lots of company, of course. Jesus said that the path to destruction is easy and well traveled (Matthew 7.13), and we can see why. Who doesn't want to live by their own definition of happiness?
But if we take that option, we turn away from the painful stretching exercises that God has for us on the path to life. He wants to plug us into his campaign to save the world from itself, and suffering goes along with campaign work.
We don't like the sound of campaign work. We prefer to keep pursuing our happiness our way because we believe we are worth it, which is exactly what the Big Lie wants us to believe.
Stay on this path and we will end up worthless in God's eyes, contributing nothing to his campaign. We will never find our true worth. In fact, we may even drag some of our friends down into destruction along with us.
So how do we escape the Big Lie and find our worth?
Jesus knew that no lie holds us captive at a deeper level than the lie we tell ourselves about our own worth. This lie has to be exposed and broken or we won't get anywhere with his campaign. That's why he so clearly built his long-term fix into the pattern prayer he taught his campaign team. (See "Campaign prayer of Jesus" under the "God's campaign" tab.)
In that prayer he teaches us to pray for the welfare of the world before praying for our own welfare. We think less about our entitlements and more about our loyalty as worthy finishers. We stop comparing our worth with other people's.
Notice how cleverly Jesus has helped us with this prayer. Instead of telling us we have an inflated view of our own worth and we have to get over it, he takes our minds off ourselves by introducing something that is worth a lot more--his campaign. It's captivating, ennobling, and euphoric. We "get" that worthy people are the ones who are caught up in this campaign.
And besides the prayer, we have a powerful image in our minds, a mental picture of Jesus heroically carrying a cross. It is impossible to imagine Jesus resentfully thinking at that moment, "I'm worth more than this." No, he wasn't doubting his worth. He was experiencing it and displaying it. We too are worth most when we are loyally carrying out our personal assignments in God's campaign, regardless of the pain involved.