Reflection April 2, 2017; Genesis 1: 27; Psalm 130: 5,6; Matthew 10:42
Keeping the faith 5: Recognize your value
Today we conclude our Lenten series on Keeping the Faith. Lent is about keeping faith in and keeping faith with Jesus on the road of suffering to Jerusalem. Sometimes keeping that faith is hard when we see Christians, including ourselves, not behaving the way we think they should. We get disappointed and turned off and sometimes assume it is a reflection on the value of faith? So this series asks the question: how do we keep up the faith when we get discouraged like that. The first Sunday we talked about the value of humility and of telling the truth about ourselves and of not pointing at others. The second Sunday we spoke about the value of realizing that the world does not exist to makes us happy and pleased. The third Sunday we saw the value of true and honest conversations, for nothing spiritual can happen in fake conversations. Last week we concluded that there is value in being receptive to new ways of hearing God’s calling in the world. Finally, in today’s fifth reflection on the theme of keeping the faith we focus on recognizing our own value and the value of others.
In Bob Burg and John David Mann’s small book the “Go-Giver” they lay down some laws for being an entrepreneur. I will not mention all of them. Last week I referred to being receptive which is, as it turns out, in line with their law of receptivity, of being open to new ideas and gifts. There are also three other laws I’d like to mention, namely their law of value, their law of influence and their law of authenticity. About value they say that people’s worth is determined by how much more we give in value than they take in payment. About influence they say that that people’s influence is determined by how much they place the interests of others above themselves. About authenticity they say that the greatest gift we have to offer people is ourselves. Now being a person of Christian faith is not like being part of a business, but there is something to learn here I think and that there is great value to our contribution, that we have influence and that we have we have a great gift in ourselves we can offer to others. So instead of demanding that others show much value, we can celebrate our own value for others. It boils down to value we have for God and others just by being authentically ourselves.
Friends, in the first chapter of Genesis verse 27, the author tells us that God made us, female and male, in God’s image. This means there is something of God in is, whether it is visible or whether it is a mere possibility. God implanted something in us that is of great value. In our lectionary reading from Psalm 130 we are reminded that we must keep our eyes on God the way the watchman waits for the dawn. In other words, we cannot realize our full value unless we keep our eyes on God. When we lose the perspective of being God’s creature, of being beholden to God, we lose our way and we become of less value to others. Finally, in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 10, verse 42 Jesus tells us that every act of kindness is important. It may be as little as a glass of cold water. These texts affirm our value as human beings, especially as human beings who aren’t giving up on God.
In the old movie the Maltese Falcon from 1941 a cast of characters have descended on San Francisco and most find their way to the office of private investigator Sam Spade played by Humphrey Bogart. They include the femme fatale Ms. O’Shoughnessy played by Mary Astor and the exotic well-dressed Joel Cairo. Sam Spade’s assistant as well as the brother-in-law of Mary Astor’s character become victims. Everyone is after a statue of great value known as the Maltese Falcon, a covered-up statue of gold and diamonds that was owed to King Charles of Spain by the Knights of Malta. It is worth an unmentionable about of money and group of people are roaming the world following its trail, from Istanbul to San Francisco. Bogart’s character soon realizes his value as broker and go-between between the characters and the police and back again. No one can be trusted, including him. The whole movie is about value: the value of the mysterious statue and the value of each of the flawed players in this game. The players realize who has value, alive or not, and how much one can demand of the other in cost. Once everyone fesses up to their truth up to a point, their value becomes ever clearer.
Friends, do you know how much value you have? Do you know how much value you have to God? Do you know how much value you have potentially to others? This is key to keeping the faith. In a way it is a bit ironic. I have made a point of saying during this series that it isn’t about us. But in a way everything is precisely about us. So it is and it isn’t. Only by realizing that it isn’t all about us, are we free to discover our value for God and others. Think about that. Thanks be to God.