Do you remember the Kingdome in Seattle? It used to be where all of Seattle’s professional teams played. In March of 2000, it was demolished to make way for Qwest field, where the Seahawks and the Sounders now play. The cool thing about the demolition was that it was an implosion; if you watch the footage you will see it just collapse in upon itself. Where there once stood a giant hallmark of Seattle, quickly deflates and is reduced to a pile of rocks. That is what sin does to us.
The great protestant reformer, Martin Luther, defined sin as Homo Incurvatus in se, which means: “Man turned in upon himself.” We were made to have God’s shining glory as the pillar of our life, the object of our worship and treasure of our heart. But, like the implosion of a dying star, we have removed God and collapsed in upon ourselves. What remains is the devastation, and now trying to make sense of what do with this giant pile of wreckage. This ends in us being hopelessly addicted to ourselves. We are unbelievably insecure, touchy, constantly searching for some sort of validation or affirmation from someone or something. We are looking for something to stand up under the heap of rubble, to push it back up into place, to set things right.
The message of many misdirected Christians is that, with God’s help, you can become a better you, you can rebuild yourself, that deep down there is an inner champion that needs to be released, and God can help you with that! Today especially, the message of self-esteem is championed by many, and low self-esteem is seen as the root of all problems. But the problem is not low self-esteem, the problem is sin. Standing on top of the heap of rubble saying, “This is a great building! Best building ever!” Does not make it true or fix the problem of the destroyed building. It is so tempting to believe that if we could just send people out with a higher sense of self-worth, all the problems would go away. But the Bible seems to say something very different. You are completely spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-3) and there is no inner champion in you (Rom. 7:18) and you have offended God with your petty attempts at self-improvement without Him (Isa. 64:6).To tell someone that they can make things right by becoming a better version of themselves is like telling the rubble of the Kingdome to rebuild itself. For us to be made right, we do not need fake sentimentality, lying to us about how funny, smart, capable, etc. we are. That is like treating a gunshot wound by putting a vase of flowers next to someone. We need someone to heal us, not flatter us. We need to someone to take care of our sin.
The Good News
In the Gospel we see that our fundamental happiness actually doesn’t have anything to do with us, our qualifications, our failures or our triumphs. The good news is that Christ, the great architect, has come in and has rebuilt our ruined heart, entirely on His own. You did nothing to contribute to this project, other than admit that you were incapable. When Christ died on the Cross, he absorbed all of our guilt and shame into Himself, and then stood before the Father as if He were guilty and absorbed all the wrath we deserved. And when He took our filth, He transferred His perfect record to us (2 Cor. 5:21) and now the Father gives us all the love that Jesus deserved. So now, dear Christian, you are holy, pure, flawless, beautiful, complete – by absolutely nothing you have done, but by everything that Christ has done.Christ did not die for you because you were beautiful, but He surrendered His beauty to make you beautiful. You see the difference?
So what does a Christian do now when they begin to feel ugly and worthless? They admit that they are. Luther says it best,
So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!
Only in Christianity can we be radically honest about our shortcomings, but unflinchingly bold about our holy standing with God, and in consequence, be fundamentally content, happy people. Dear Christian, are you tempted to try and lie about your failures? Do you feel like you must be strong, capable, smart, beautiful, etc. for you to have worth in this life? May I encourage you to look to the Cross, and see that you have been made righteous. Do not put on this yoke of slavery of trying to earn your worth – Christ has already made you worthy.