Saturday, March 3, 2012

Second Sunday in Lent: Do I Matter?

Our sermon series on Max Lucado's Fearless continues with chapter 2: Fear of Not Mattering.
Scripture readings for the week:  Genesis 1:26-31, Psalm 139:1-18, Ephesians 2:1-10, Luke 12:4-7

I remember reading about a study in my psychology class.  Researchers studied infants from about twelve to eighteen months old to compare how attached they were to their mothers with how comfortable they were in exploring the world around them.

They found that those infants who were strongly attached to their mothers were more confident in exploring new situations.  Infants who were not strongly attached were much more fearful in new situations.

Of course there is a lot more to the study than my brief explanation, and I’m sure that in the (many) years since I got my undergraduate degree in psychology, there’s been a ton of discoveries in the field of attachment theory.

The main point is I want to make here is that our sense of security and self-worth depends on knowing that there is someone who deeply loves and cares for us.

And when we don’t feel we have that love, when we feel we don’t matter, we develop all sorts of ways to get the attention and love we crave.

We need to be loved and we need to give love – that’s just the way we are wired.  It’s one of those ‘made in the image of God’ characteristics.  We were created to be loved and to love.

We want to know that we matter to someone.

Of course the truth is that we all matter to God.  God deeply cares for us.  We are after all God’s good creation, made in God’s image. 

Psalm 139 talks about this deep love God has for us.  God knows each of us – where we go, what we do, what we feel, what we think.  God knows our hope and dreams, our thoughts and fears. 

In fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves.  God created each one of us - ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ – created us body, and mind, and spirit, with all our talents and abilities and interest.  God carefully made you, and planned for you to fill a unique place in the world. 

God knows the ‘you’ that you could be, that you were intended to be, if you weren’t living in a world broken by sin and death.

But we do live in a broken world. 

We don’t know who we were created to be.  We don’t know the plans God has for us. 

And we wonder if we really matter.

We do all sorts of things to prove that we do matter.

Surely we matter if we belong, if we fit in:
-We follow fashion trends and buy the latest styles;
-We buy the coolest and newest gadgets;
-We fiercely defend our loyalty to our favorite sports team, our school, our brand; 
-We collect autographs and souvenirs, and follow the lives of our favorite celebrity stars;

Surely we matter if we work hard enough:
-We throw ourselves into our jobs;
-We study hard to get ahead;
-We volunteer tirelessly;
-We give a dollar to get our name on a shamrock at the Wal-Mart, sometimes more to get our name in the paper, or on a brass plaque.

Surely we matter if we have people near us:
-We dedicate ourselves to our families,
-We gather friends around us;
-We join social networks;
-We search for that special person who will love us forever.

And underneath it all,
-We wonder if the people around us really do love us;
-We worry we will be picked last;
-We wait for rejection;
-We wait for someone to point out our secret fear – that we just don’t measure up.

Some of us are crippled by this fear.  Some of us really don’t think we matter at all.  Some of us don’t think that anyone loves us, or that we are even loveable.

And just like the infants in the study, if we don’t feel loved, we can’t explore our world.  We can’t live up to our potential.  Our fear keeps us trapped.

But God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim1:7)

We worry that we don’t matter…


We matter to God.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.   And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows..” (Matthew 10:29–31)

I remember the first time I learned these verses in Sunday school.  We had lots of sparrows around our house.  I thought they were such a dull bird, small and brown and I wished that the sparrows would go away so we could have prettier birds, like blue jays and cardinals, and robins, and finches and maybe and hummingbird or two.  But God kept track of all those sparrows and knew when one of the fell to the ground – or got snared by one of our farm cats!  

If God keeps such good track of the sparrows, I thought, God must really watch over me! 

We matter to God.

We read this morning that God created us, male and female, in God’s image and looked us over and called us very good (Genesis 1:26-31).

We read this morning that God knows us completely; no matter where we go God leads us and holds us fast; God carefully and loving crafted each one of us (Psalm 139:1-17).

We read this morning that God tenderly cares for even sparrows, which had such little value that they could be bought 2 for a penny or 5 for 2 pennies. 

We read this morning in Ephesians:  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.” (Ephesians 2:10 )

We are what God has made us
– fearfully and wonderfully made, God’s masterpiece

Created in Christ Jesus
– claimed in the water of baptism, part of this family of God, fed on the Word and the bread and wine of Christ , made a new creation, re-made into the person we were created to be from the beginning.

For good works which God prepare beforehand to be our way of life
– freed to live as God intended us to live, free to take our unique place in the world and in the kingdom of God.

Do you matter?  Does God care about you?

More than you could ever know.

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