This was a sermon I wrote for our Church’s Christmas service in 2017. We had recently lost our dearly loved pastor to cancer, and our church needed a whole lot of love and togetherness. This is the message the Holy Spirit put on my heart that my church family needed to hear. I find myself in a similar place Christmas 2018, and so this message is for us last year, this year, and every year to come.
What is our worth to God? How much does he think about us? What do we really mean to God?
What do you mean to God?
In other words, what do you – a sinner – mean to the God almighty, creator and sustainer of life?? It’s a big question alright.
Biologically and chemically speaking, if we were to break down the human body into its components, we are roughly 65% Oxygen, 18% Carbon, 10.2% Hydrogen, 3.1% Nitrogen and so forth. Some have calculated that if we ignore water (because it is free) we come up as being worth… a couple of dollars. You skin is worth about $3.50 – at the price of a cow hide, so maybe we could bump that up to $5. Not much.
So what is it that makes us so valuable? Being human means more than just existing. We love, we feel, we reason, we develop and hold relationships.
Martin Luther said “God doesn’t love us because of our worth, we are of worth because God loves us.”
Our God doesn’t love us because of anything we have done, but he loves us so much in the first place to create us. So our simple existence speaks of His love.
Genesis 1:27 “God created us in His image…”
The image of God – relationship, reasoning, loving, feeling, empathising…all these things are ‘the image of God. Our God desires relationship, so he created us to be in relationship in the first place – with each other and with Him.
Our value is found in the eyes of the maker. I had this owl thing I made, from driftwood and macrame. It was quite a silly looking thing, and I do remember mum asking ‘what’s that??” but because I had made it, it hung at home in pride of place in the kitchen. It wasn’t that beautiful, but because I had made it, it added value – and I remember to this day the sense of pride because of where it hung in the kitchen. When my kids were little and scrawled a picture and gave it to me – it went onto the fridge in a flash. Why? Because they had made it. And I love and value them.
So we are valuable simply because the God of the universe knit us together. He made us, he loves us, he values us beyond anything we can imagine. Who are we to argue?
Value is defined as the price someone is willing to pay. We find our value in all sorts of areas…but I challenge us all to find or recognise our value in God, which is not earthly, which is eternal value. We often find value in what other people think of us, our achievements, the way we look, the things we have…these are all good, but temporal. They will not last forever.
The value God has for us will last forever. It is timeless, defeats moths, mould and decay, his value challenges earthly preconceptions of us. So when you hear all the voices from society saying you are not good enough, you are ugly, you are too fat, too thin…you are allowed to ignore those voices and listen to the voice of your Father, creator and redeemer.
He says you are good enough because I am good enough. He says you are beautiful because I created your beauty. He says you are perfect the way you are because I have created you to play a part in my everlasting story, and if you were any different you wouldn’t be able to play that role. He says you may have a pimple on your nose, but I love your heart. You may not have everything in proportion, but your gifts and talents are perfectly in proportion. So when you hear those voices, rebuke them for they are lies.
Let’s revisit the stories of the lost things…
The Prodigal son
What did the lost son in Luke 15 mean to the father? You remember the story, son wants his inheritance, runs away, wastes his money and ends up looking after the pigs. He figures out a way to return home without losing face. He knew he was lost. And what did the father do? The father kept watch for the son every sing day, and ran to greet him when he returned. The father put his coat and ring on him and put on the biggest party to celebrate.
The Lost Coin
Also in Luke 15, What did the lost coin mean to the woman? It was about a days wage, but for a peasant, far more value than that. The coin had no idea it was lost. The woman searched and searched until she found it. She turns everything upside down, uses expensive oil to light a lamp to look for it, and focuses on nothing but finding the coin.
Then she celebrated with her neighbours when she found it!
God desires a right relationship with us! He might have 9 out of 10 coins, but he wants all 10.
The Lost Sheep
What did the lost sheep in Matthew 18, Luke 15 mean to the shepherd? Everything. He left the herd (99) in the safety of the pen to personally go out and find the one missing sheep. The sheep knew it was lost, but had no idea how to get home. And again there was celebration when the one was found.
We are sometimes in need of being found by our Father Shepherd, sometimes we can be the symbolic shepherd helping others find their way home. More often than not, we are the symbolic sheep…These stories illustrate the value God places on us, when we know we are lost, when we don’t know we are lost and when we don’t know how to find our way home. He doesn’t love us less when we stray, he doesn’t give up on us – it’s just that’s what it can feel like when our back is turned from him. He is like the father watching the road for any sign of his boy. God is waiting for us to simply turn to him, and he is there, ready to celebrate!
How come we can have this grace and mercy??
1 Cor 6:20 says ‘God bought you with a high price.’
What was that high price? The life and death of a perfect Jesus. That is why we can simply turn and come back to Jesus, forgiveness is right there, a new cloak is waiting, a safe pen and the shepherd is waiting, ready!
The high price was when God sent Jesus as that tiny vulnerable baby in Bethlehem. The high price was when Jesus cried tears in Gethsemane. The high price was the beating he took for you and me. The high price was when Jesus breathed his last and trusted that God would restore him again. That is a massively high price. When Jesus valued us above his kingship, it tells me that we are worth more than his glory, worth more than his position in heaven. Let me repeat that…
When Jesus valued us above his kingship, it tells me that you are worth more than His glory, worth more than his position in Heaven.
Wow! Ephesians chapter 2 talks about how ‘despite our sin, Jesus came’. We reflect on baby Jesus this season…he did that for you. He came to live as a man for you and me. Because we mean everything to him.
Who did God buy with a high price? You. He bought you, and you and you with the highest price that anyone could be bought with. What does that say about your value? Wow. The death of an eternal being Jesus, for our eternal life. Jesus took our price so we could have his inheritance.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.
The message puts it this way… This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
When Jesus came to this earth, conceived in Mary, he was saying you are worth more than his kingship, worth more than his glory or position in Heaven. You are worth Jesus’ life, you are worth His death. You are valuable, beyond measure. He was stripped and wounded for our wrongs, yet he knows the number of hairs on your head. He left Heaven for dull, awful, scarred earth, so we could leave this place and join in the beauty of Heaven. His value for each of you is beyond this earth, beyond our present circumstance. Which is why we must look forward and beyond where we are placed at this time. We must keep our eyes fixed on Heaven, on the bigger picture.
Not only does Jesus know us so intimately, loves us beyond this earth, he cherished us to the cross.
John 15:12 “Love one another as I have loved you”
This then is how we are to love one another. Jesus thinks the world of you, and so because of that, because of the love Jesus gives me, I am then able to love you. You are then able to love each other. Church family, let us join this Christmas and look at humanity through the eyes of Jesus. Let us love one another just as Christ loves us. Whole heartedy, absolutely, seeing each others’ potential, lifting each other up when we fall, encouraging each other when we fail.
Church family, and I mean that…family…we have had a roller coaster year, some exciting times, times to celebrate, and times to grieve. But we have travelled this year together. We have done a lot of hugging, a lot of praying and a lot of encouraging. But this is why I believe that God created ‘church’. He should have actually named it ‘family’. Because he knew that travelling this life can be terribly bumpy, and we can find ourselves in dark places, but when we travel together, we are stronger. When we pray together and for each other, we open the flood gates of Heaven that allow the Holy Spirit to work. And when the Holy Spirit can work, lives are changed.
So family, we are going to do things a little different to end our special Christmas celebration. Christmas is all about Jesus, but it is also all about you and me…together. I invite all of you where possible to please stand. I am going to ask those who are able to move, to gather around in a large circle, linking arms – children maybe in the middle near their family, we may even need a couple of circles – but they must be linked. Everyone linked at least to another person….we are all family. Let us stand with each other to reflect on our value, and the value we place on each other here.
Lets pray… Father, thankyou for family. We reflect on those who are not standing with us, and pray that you God would bring them home if they are spiritually far. And for those who should be standing here, please give us strength and courage to continue without those you have put to rest. Thankyou for loving us so much, that you bothered to orchestrate a grand plan to rescue us. Thankyou for not scrapping us when we sinned, but rather you wanted each one of us when you comes again. Thankyou that you want to share eternity with us on this earth made new, and what a glorious day that will be when we can sing together…completely together…with our loved ones by our side… with Jesus and the angels. Praise God, for baby Jesus to be our saviour, redeemer, unblemished lamb, example, life giver and friend. Amen
This message of our value in Christ is worth sharing. It is worth telling on the mountain that baby Jesus brought salvation and hope, that baby Jesus was sent because of how much God loves and values each of us. Lets not find our value in earthly things, but in Jesus our Lord, and Saviour.
At this Christmas time, may your Spirit go with each of us, may you bless each family represented here. And may we never forget that you think the world of us. Amen