This post in inspired by Caroline Vandenbree.
I have grown up in the tension between being loved and being sinful. I’ve grown up in no man’s land, between the “liberal” trench of grace on my left and the “conservative” trench of the reality of sin on my right. I’ve heard and seen many leaders berate the ‘other side’ for either being too soft on sin or being too low on love or grace. And I’ve nodded in agreement with both.
But it never made sense to me.
It has, for as long as I’ve been old enough to understand the conversation, always seemed like there was some inexcusable leap being made on both sides.
This disconnect came into focus for me this last week as I was interacting with something Caroline posted on facebook. Her post was the site of some debate about wishy-washy churches vs strong, ‘real’ churches. Of course, it was the same old rhetoric, only this time the language had changed slightly. Instead of being an emphasis of sin at the cost of grace, or vice versa, the emphasis was on value–as in, you are valued by God regardless of anything else.
This statement of value received the push back from the ‘conservative’ side as being an indication of watered down gospel–not enough sin talk.
But hold on a second. Value in God’s eyes has absolutely nothing to do with sinfulness. Let me say that again, being valued by God does not mean sin is not a problem. In fact, value and sinfulness are independent of one another; they don’t have any bearing on the other. You are infinitely valuable regardless of your sinfulness.
And it all clicked for me. We have conflated our sense of worth with our ability to be sinless.
Our battles and melees are really a protection of our inner sense of worth. That inner sense of worth is the root of real, actual, sin. That inner value that depends on our own ability to speak rightly or abstain rightly or do rightly is exactly the source of real sin.
But you are valued beyond measure by God regardless of your sin. Value is not a negotiable commodity for God. Yes, you are a sinner and so am I, but that reality should never impinge on the grace that reveals the root of sin. You see, by emphasizing sin at the expense of value, Christians have unwittingly enabled the power of sin to remain in their life. It’s like when you obsess over a bad habit; you keep doing it because you keep thinking about it. You want to stop biting your nails? Stop thinking about not biting them. Think about something else. You want to live into the call of grace that rescues us from the grip of sin? Stop thinking about sinning or not sinning or making sure everyone else knows how sinful they are. Let the cost of God’s value of your person render your inner righteousness the rubbish you want everyone else’s righteousness to be.
You are a sinner and you are valuable. Those two things are not in opposition.