“Is that him, Mama? Is that Worthy?” Katie pulled on my sleeve with one hand and pointed up to the ceiling with the other.
We were sitting in church on a Wednesday night. It isn’t church like you usually think, though. It was monthly Communion Dinner. These are loud, festive events, filled with laughter, food, and families enjoying the evening. We sat at a table surrounded with friends, old and new, eating and talking, singing and finally breaking the bread and drinking the wine for the Communion part of the service. As our Pastor led us, my youngest child sat in my lap listening. Then came her question: “Is that him, Mama?” she said, pointing to the ceiling.
I looked up to see what she was talking about. There was a row of stained glass windows. A vine. A cup. A crown of thorns. Hands praying. Then I saw the one she was pointing to. It was the lamb. “Is that him?” she asked again. “Is that Worthy the Lamb?”
I laughed and told her “Yes, Katie. Worthy is the lamb.”
I hate the notion that church is for the good people. I don’t like it from either side of the equation. I reject it from the inside of the church, from the Christian who believes that he or she has somehow “earned” a spot on the pew through good deeds, following of the rules, piety. And I reject it from the outside that says “God would collapse that church on top of my head if I ever crossed through those doors. You have no idea what I have done.”
I reject both of these lines of thoughts for the same reason. Both are based on a person’s worthiness. The first says “I am worthy of an audience with God. I have kept His laws and His rules. I am better that my neighbor who has not, and so I am worthy of my seat in the pew.” The other has the same problem from the other side. “God will reject me. Because of what I have done, said, thought, or breathed, God cannot accept me. I am worthy of his disdain.”
No, you are not good enough for God. No one is. And no, you are not bad enough that you cannot be loved and forgiven by God if that is your true heart’s desire. So get over yourself. By proclaiming yourself to be too good or too bad, you are showing off and making it about you. It’s a subtle form of self-idolatry. And not really all that subtle.
It isn’t about you and your worthiness. It is about God. And His worthiness. Being a Christian isn’t about being good or bad. It isn’t about our worthiness. It is about God’s worthiness.
This is what Good Friday and Easter are really all about. It is about the substitutionary worthiness that is given for us to assume. Our transgressions demand some sort of reconciliation that, because we are not worthy, we cannot pull off. Who then is worthy of God? God is worthy of God. In the form of His one and only Son. That is what His death on the cross is all about. He steps in and takes on our consequence for unworthiness, and we get to step in and take on His worthiness. Our faith in this gives us access to God.
Stop worrying about your worthiness, and focus on His. The question is not whether you are worthy. The question is whether He is. And the answer, as I told my daughter, is yes. Worthy is the Lamb.