Often I don’t feel like I’m worthy of being called “God’s handiwork.” When I see the incredible impact others have made for the kingdom of God – leading ministries that touch thousands, or eradicating homelessness in their cities, or drawing public attention to mass injustices – I feel like my presence on Earth is insignificant. After all, what have I done with the 31 years I’ve been here? I’ve built a few websites and I blog occasionally, but I’m no rock star. The reach of my influence is probably best measured by the tens.
But in Ephesians 2:1–10, Paul pointedly reminds me that my worth doesn’t come from my accomplishments:
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Paul says that my value comes from the love God has for me, and that love is not conditional. When God, at the creation of humanity, planted the spark of the Creator within us, God gave us (and me) irrevocable worth. When I try to define myself by any metric other than God’s love for me – when I base my value on the reach of my ministry, the scope of my influence, or the legacy of my life – I am placing my own standards above God’s.
My task, my response to God’s love, is not to build a more influential platform, but to continually reflect the love of God to the world. I am not called to share the message of Christ because I want higher attendance when I lead a class or to get more hits on my blog, but because I have experienced the grace of God and because I know how meaningful the hope of Christ has been in my own life.
The question I ought to be asking myself is not “How can I have a bigger impact for the kingdom of God,” but “How can I love the people God created more deeply and faithfully?”
It is in answering that question that I find my purpose.