They really do tell you that, you know. That you’re worthless. That you’re nothing more than a savage, brutish, hideous beast. It’s the first step to complete control: tear down your own good self-image, and convince you that you have no intelligent or good thoughts of your own. Then you’re in perfect shape to accept everything they tell you as the absolute holy truth. Because who are you to say otherwise?
Nothing, nobody. I heard some news about my friend who is in a church like that. She used to be so happy. She was funny and pretty and silly and a little bit rebellious. Now they are telling her that she is nothing. Just a worthless, miserable, wretched sinner. And she is beginning to believe them, just like I did. Just like a thousand other girls all over the world have believed teachings like this. She tells me it’s wonderful to surrender your will to God and realize that you are nobody, but she doesn’t sound happy about it. She sounds miserable. My friend, who I laughed with, who I cared about, who was so pretty and vibrant, is being destroyed. That’s what they do to you.
I cried when I heard that. Normally, I do not cry. My typical reaction when I hear of atrocities like this is anger. But I cried. I truly wept. It was awful. How could they do this? They are destroying her. They are destroying every other friend I left behind. I cry when I think of them too, of Helen who is so intelligent and who could change the world if they gave her a chance. Shy Lucy, with stunning dark blue eyes and a timid laugh. Clever Eleanor, who is so observant and can practically read the thoughts of those around her. Witty Aria, with her hilarious and perpetual jokes. All of them, every special and unique and wonderful person, are being told that they have nothing to offer to the world. Worthless.
I hate that. I hate it. They paint God as a vast, shadowy threat whose hatred for sin is consuming and neverending. The God who made the supreme, unimaginable sacrifice, the God who gave His Son to be tortured and slain so that we would not have to bear this crushing guilt any more, is obscured by this vengeful, wrathful spirit of rage. They never tell you that God is love. They never tell you that you are a new creation, that by His grace your sin is no more. They never tell you that you are beautiful and loved. They don’t tell you that you can laugh for sheer, uncontainable joy at the very thought of the mercy and love that your Father has showered on your head. Instead, they remind you constantly that you are not and never will be enough. They focus entirely on God’s hatred for sin and ignore completely His gift of undeserved mercy.
Yes, God hates evil. I know that. But God loves me. I don’t know why. I can’t imagine it. Me? This Andrea Grace? But He does. He does, I tell you! And that’s not to say I am awesome; that just means I have inherent worth because He is awesome! Why should I focus on my inadequacy when there are a thousand laughing songs to sing about His unending love? Why should I remain immersed in my own shame when already I have been rescued from it? Jesus Christ died so I could laugh. He died so that justice would be satisfied and my guilt would no longer be my burden to bear. The grace of Jesus is bigger than my guilt.
If anyof you reading this are being told that you are nothing more than a filthy, wretched sinner, you are being lied to. It’s blunt, perhaps overly so, but there's no other way to say it. You have been clothed in the snowy white robes of grace! You are free from sin, free from the overwhelming burden of your own guilt. Released! Truly and fully released from the dark prison of your own sin. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was enough for even you. It covered your sin, and you do not have to worry about it any longer. Please. Do not believe that you are nothing. You are a living, loving, laughing human being, created by and in the very image of the holy God. You are loved by the King of Kings. Far from being worthless, you are worth your weight in gold. You are worth the weight of a thousand elephants in gold. More! God loves you. To Him, you are beautiful. The only thing left for you to do is love Him back.
When — by grace! — in Christ our trust is, Justice smiles and asks no more!
— Let us Love and Sing and Wonder, John Newton
*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.