A cosmetics brand uses a slogan that is attractively appealing: “Because you’re worth it.” All around us, we see images of success in full HD detail where the people who seem to have it all model various entitlements and aspirations. But behind the masks and makeup lies a familiar reality that life is seldom what is marketed to us. We naturally learn to live with dashed ideals and unfinished projects, finding happiness and satisfaction in small joys as well as large, and also in the simplest of pleasures. And it is ordinary, everyday people in our world – not those on our screens – that teach us to ground our goals and desires in a healthy dose of reality.
Tennis nice guy, Pat Rafter, once said that he learned his good graces from growing up in a big family where you were not the centre of attention and where there must be plenty of give and take. In any large community, there are times of conflict and chaos, and concessions will have to be made. But the richness of the experiences gained will be well worth any deprivations and frustrations.
Any sort of community life will sometimes compromise the picture-perfect tranquillity and orderliness we may prefer. But, for me, that’s where churches shine. Despite dashed expectations and clear imperfections, redeemed people shape and sharpen each other’s awesome potential upon realising that we have an identity that comes from belonging to a large family whose Father has fashioned us all for greatness.
When we see in each other what we have been called and created to be, then we can look past those ways in which we all fall short, whilst not excusing them either. But, rather than focus on how people may have let me down, or how they might not measure up, I prefer to see through a different grid.
The more we encourage each other in what we can yet become, the more we will help others and ourselves. The less we will focus on what people are doing to us, because we are focused on what God has already done for us.
When I am well grounded, I know that I can love others just as God loves me. I can see others the way He sees me. This is especially so in the church, because Christians are my family. I can be an instrument of encouragement and warmth to bring out the best in others when my identity depends on my Father and not upon the responses or recognitions of others.
And God also values you enough to have sent Christ as your gateway to His family in which there is genuine love and acceptance, “because you’re worth it” to Him, and that matters more than the affirmation of anyone!