Drew and I started working with the youth group at our church, and at one of the first events we talked about was the lie of insignificance. I think that is a really powerful topic to address for students who are beginning to grow up and make their own decisions and preparing to go out on their own. The world can be a very mean place because it is full of all of us sinful humans that seem to have a knack for hurting each other and putting one another down if it means we can get ahead just a little bit more.
This is also a huge topic among women, who are prone to comparing ourselves to one another and dwelling on our flaws and insecurities instead of our strengths. So often our world tells us our success depends on how beautiful we are, or how much others like us, or any number of lies that cause our gaze to stray from the way that God looks at us. The truth is, however, that it doesn’t matter what we do, who we are, or how we look. What matters is what our Creator wants to do in and through us. What matters is Who we belong to rather than all of the other things on this earth that compete for our loyalty and attention.
Identity and feelings of insecurity touch us in our youth, womanhood, and really all things human in us, we are not alone in this battle. In fact, it is addressed many places in the Bible. So many people that God called didn’t feel worthy at times. From Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, to David, who ruled as a man after God’s own heart, many have had moments where they have either doubted themselves or been looked down upon by others. This must be some aspect of our humanity. And at the end of the day, despite all the great and amazing things God did through these people, they were actually right. They weren’t worthy. We aren’t worthy. We fall short. We miss the mark. As much as God has called us to do wonderful things, it is not because we are such wonderful people; it is because He is such a wonderful God.
Going back to the Deuteronomy passage I identified with for times we feel like we are in a desert place, that wasn’t the end of the story. They didn’t stay in the desert. God saw past their sin and complaining and brought them into the Promised Land. Even though the Israelites were God’s chosen people, he made it clear to them that it was not because of their goodness that he chose to rescue them,
“After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!’ …The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.” Deuteronomy 9:4-6
Put very bluntly, God wanted the Israelites to know that they were not as good as they might think they are after God helps them defeat all of their enemies. Yes, God loves them deeply, and pursues them and provides abundantly for them in the desert, but who they are in and of themselves is not what makes them special. What makes them significant is their almighty God. The one who made a covenant with their forefathers is faithful. Not because they held up their end of the bargain. No way, they were a stubborn people. As soon as Moses left them for a few days in the wilderness to meet with God on the mountain, they made a golden calf to worship in God’s place (check out the rest of some of the surrounding chapters of Deuteronomy where this story is recounted).
As much as we like to look down on the Israelites for crazy incidents like the golden calf and all their doubting and complaining as God continued to provide for them in the desert, there are so many ways we can likely identify with them. We too are a stubborn people, prone to wander, as the old hymn says. The lie of insignificance therefore, does not mean that we actually are significant on our own. The truth is, we are insignificant, we are stubborn, and we are sinful. However, our complete insignificance is a lie because the story doesn’t stop there. God doesn’t leave us in our insignificance, He calls us back to His story and His significance that give our lives depth and meaning deeper than anything we can imagine.
Paul encourages the Corinthians of our true significance as Christians,
“We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
What good and precious news is this? Our confidence does not come from things that we do, it comes from our trust in God and what His son did for us. What matters in this life is how we live out the new covenant in our everyday lives and let the Holy Spirit transform us through whatever is going on around us.
Living here in Zambia has made me aware of so many human needs that I only just thought about before I moved here. The people here are dealing things like an 80% unemployment rate, and 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children that need to be cared for within this country alone. It is so easy to look at these huge issues and injustices and feel so incredibly small because I have absolutely no idea how to truly solve any of them. As I go and visit people and see their needs, I can’t help but want to help every single one of them. It’s overwhelming. But the God that sees and addresses my needs also knows theirs. The fact that these children are alive today, and that I get to play Simon Says, or make something cool out of pipe cleaners with them throughout the week is absolutely amazing.
One of our mission teams this week doing a craft with over 100 children in one classroom.
God doesn’t need us. We are His tools, His instruments that He chooses to use to show His grace, love, and greatness through. How cool is that? No matter who we are, or what we do, we get to participate in something greater than ourselves when we answer the call God has placed on our lives to become His children, ministers of the Good News. We will never measure up, we will never do enough, we will always fall short, but that can’t discourage us from doing the one thing God is calling us to do today. Share His love through a smile, show His compassion listening to the story of someone who is hurting, spread His joy through laughter and fun with children and adults alike. Our stories are important, not necessarily for ourselves, but because they are participating in His story. What a privilege, gift, and responsibility. May we live our lives not to build up our own significance, but through confidence in His significance, which is perfect.