Will You Be There for Me and Do You Care? God’s Answer.
In my work as a therapist and relationship coach I consistently encounter one fundamental issue that creates so many problems and so much pain for so many persons. From the day we are born each of us asks a life-determining question: Am I valuable enough that you will be there for me and that you care? If we are fortunate to have loving parents committed to our wellbeing, we experience the security of knowing we are highly valued. No parent will do this perfectly, and many will fall far short of consistently communicating this essential message. Some parents will send the opposite message that we are not valuable, as they were not there for us at crucial moments, and we came to believe they really didn’t care. Some of us lost our parents to death, divorce or a variety of disabilities so that they were physically present, but not emotionally there for us. Most of us, to some degree, question just how much worth and value we have.
This is compounded in that we live in a world at war with God. We are sinners in a fallen world. One definition of sin is falling short of the mark. God has a standard (Be perfect as my Heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:48) we cannot attain, and instinctively we know this and struggle with feeling inadequate. Sinful choices break relationships (seen from the moment our first parents sinned in the Garden and out of shame ended up hiding from God and accusing each other), and we struggle with feeling unlovable. These insecurities cause us to question our value or worth, and too often this world answers that question – no, we have no value or worth. The pain of feeling devalued drives just about every poor choice and hurtful act we do.
In a devaluing world filled with insecure people, we need a source from which we can be secure in our worth and value, no matter how adverse the outcomes or how hurtful others can be. Value comes not from what we accomplish or acquire, or the acclaim we receive – not what we have, but from whose we are. It’s knowing we are not orphans, but that we are greatly valued sons and daughters.
These themes are echoed in Ephesians 1: 1-14. This letter is written to Christians that Paul describes as saints who are…faithful in Christ Jesus. Saints means set apart for God – his possession. Faithful here can mean dependable, those who consistently are there for Jesus and each other. We are valued by God, not because we are faithful, we can be faithful once we know we are valued
Verses 4 and 5, he chose us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. First, we are God’s possession because he chose us. We are his sons because he adopted us. Adoption is always a free choice. What is so exceptional about God’s choice of us is that it was made before the foundation of the world, before we were created, before we had any chance to do anything to warrant his choice, or anything to disqualify us. He chose knowing everything sinful we would do, but not concerned, because he trusted his ability to work with us to make us holy and blameless in his sight
Second, we know we are of infinite value to God because he was willing to pay an infinitely high cost so that we could be adopted. We are profoundly and powerfully blessed in Christ, here called the Father’s Beloved, verse 6; verse 7, because in Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. To redeem something is to pay a price for it. That price was the death of Jesus on the Cross. God himself paid the cost of our adoption, and no higher price could be paid. I have frequently said, that if we have any doubt about our value to our Heavenly Father, look at the Cross of Christ. The higher the cost, the higher the value of the thing purchased. Does our Heavenly Father care? Are we important to him? How greatly does he want us to be with him in loving, intimate connection? Look at the Cross and the One dying there. Any doubts we may have as to our value to God are once and for all time, stilled.
Third, we know we are highly valued when we see we have a unique place by the will of God aligned with the purposes of God. Verses 9 and 10 indicate that it is God’s purpose in Christ to bring all things (including us) together under Christ’s headship. We are chosen, verse 11 states, to conform us to the purpose of his will. This is repeatedly described as us able to praise his glory. God values us through creating us in his image. He values us by adopting us into his family. He values us seen in the price of our redemption. And he values the place we uniquely play in his eternal purposes.
This practically works itself out by each of us becoming all he created us to be. My conviction is that we can praise God no better, nor glorify him more powerfully, than becoming all he created us to be, from which we can do all that he has called us to do. What is so incredible about this is that we can fulfill God’s purposes, uniquely, and in ways no one else ever created could. That is why each of us is a carefully crafted masterpiece of a divine artist, different from every other carefully crafted masterpiece.
This unique purpose contained in our distinctive crafting by our Divine Artist/Creator elevates our value far beyond the measures of this earthly life. No other person can replicate our unique value, as a distinct instrument to eternally praise our God. The sum total of the praise eternally given to our God would be lessened without each of our unique worship contribution. In this life and the next each of us have a unique place in the eternal purposes of God.
The incredible truth here is that we create value. We are not only valued by God, but God purposes us to add value to his creation. This only stands to reason. Our God is a creative God. We are fashioned in his image, so we share his ability to be creative. In doing so, we add value to life. Lewis spoke of this when he mentioned each soul communicating its unique vision to all others, in this life through artistic media, and in eternity through heavenly worship. We add value to our lives in each relationship in which we invest ourselves, be it a conversation with a stranger on an airline flight, or with the person we choose to share our lives with and build a family. We add value when we use our God-given talents, gifts and training in our vocations and in the ministries to which he calls us. God chose to create us, to adopt us into his forever family through his Son because he highly values us, and he values our ability to add value to his creation. God’s goal in all of this is that we might be for the praise of his glory.
Finally, we know we are highly valued in that our God promises us a guaranteed inheritance, verses 13 and 14. The final goal of parenting is to leave a good inheritance to their children. These inheritances are the fruit of all those parents invested in and accomplished in their lives that they want to pass on to their children. An inheritance can be in the form of wealth, but it also can be godly character, wisdom, and skills passed to that child as the parent shapes the child’s life over the years. The major and final goal in all the striving we do in our lives is to leave something of ourselves to our children.
This is also God’s goal in all his strivings to accomplish our salvation. In his case we actually become like him. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in this life to make us more and more like Jesus. That work will be imperfectly done in this life. It will be perfectly completed when, after death, we are glorified in his presence. 1 John 3: 2 declares: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Our inheritance in Christ is to finally become like Christ. Ephesians 1 tells us we can believe this is true because we are (verse 13) marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. The present ministry of the Holy Spirit in each Christian now, assures us that our ultimate glorification will happen.
In this devaluing world, we can easily lose sight of these glorious truths of how much value God sees in us and gives to us. That value is all summed up in 1: 14 in the redemption of those who are God’s possession. Contained in these few words are God’s choice to adopt us into his family, God’s act of saving us – redeeming us by Christ’s shed blood on the Cross, the purposes of his will to make us to be to praise his glory, and our guaranteed inheritance whereby we become like Jesus. Our value comes not from possessing treasure, but by knowing we are God’s treasured possession. What counts is not what we have, but whose we are. As his treasured possession, everything our loving God does tells us he is there for us and he cares.
Our job is not to lose sight of all this. Verse 1: 13 says: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. We have heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. Our job is to get up each morning in a devaluing world, and believe how much we are valued by our Heavenly Father. For that to happen we need to imprint in our memory God’s truths as contained in the Scriptures. There is no substitute for time spent each day in God’s Word. Every time we read a passage from the Bible we are re-patterning our brains, creating new neural pathways that go immediately to our God-given core value, and not to a place of guilt and shame activated by our fears of being inadequate and unlovable. Romans 12 calls this being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our job is to stop playing the demeaning tapes this devaluing world gave us, and replace them with God’s tapes, the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation.