It’s been a busy couple of weeks with the “Trinity: Next Steps” process beginning, but I’m excited to be able to get back to taking a look at some of the great questions that came in a few weeks ago as a part of my sermon on the power of faith-questions.
The question we’re taking a look at today that came in on that sermon weekend is: “How can I best overcome feelings of unworthiness because of sins of my younger years.”
Well, I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news.
First, the bad news: You’re right. You’re not worthy. Neither am I. Or anyone else.
You see, we believe that there is nothing that we can do on our own to make ourselves worthy. We can’t. The language we use in the liturgy of confession is that “we are held captive to sin and we cannot free ourselves.” The way you phrased your question implies that perhaps things happened in your younger years that you are especially ashamed of. I understand that. There are things we all look back on with regret.
But here’s the good news: While we cannot make ourselves worthy, that’s why God sent Jesus.
You see, sometimes I think we ask ourselves the wrong question. We want to try and figure out how to overcome our feelings of unworthiness. Because we are captive to sin, if we have any sense of conscience at all, we will always feel unworthy. But we must also remember that we are completely dependent on the love of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection who makes us worthy. We cannot overcome unworthiness…but Jesus can.
So rather than overcome our sense of unworthiness, I kind of want to embrace that. I want to acknowledge it. I want to own it…and alongside that, embrace the grace and love of Jesus who makes me worthy. The fact is, I need a God who can do this for me. I need a savior.
When we are trying to overcome our sense of unworthiness, we are still trying to do it by ourselves. Not only is that impossible, it is exhausting…it creates turmoil within us…it reinforces the pain of living lives broken by sin. But to accept the grace of God, freely given is to embrace the peace that comes from Christ and is to let go of the baggage that comes from trying to do it by ourselves. And once we are able to live in to, and experience the gift of forgiveness from God, then we are able to forgive ourselves…and to let go of the pain that these past sins cause us.
“ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” -Ephesians 2:8.
“Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus…” -Romans 8:39b
So I’ll be honest with you: You wont’ be able to overcome these feelings of unworthiness. Don’t try. But instead, receive the grace and love of God that comes through Jesus and pair your feelings of unworthiness with the feeling of dependence on God, of acceptance, of love and of peace. Don’t try to overcome your feelings…instead receive God’s love, freely given and then let go of these feelings. God wants to carry this burden for you.