Thursday, February 15, 2024

Our worthless God. . .

Growing up on a farm there was a certain expression about mammary glands on a male pig.  Maybe you have heard it.  It was the universal statement against those things that had no use or purpose that we could ascertain.  It was one of the worst possible judgments you could make against stuff but even worse when applied to a person.  I wonder how much we apply this judgment to things without which our lives would be rather dull.  I wonder if we don't also apply it to God.  You tell me if I am correct.

Much of what makes our lives rich is rather useless and worthless.  It has an artificial value.  We love grandma's china because of the sentiment and memories attached to the meals we ate off it at her house but go to sell it and you find out its real value.  The same could be said about most of our stuff.  It has the value we assign to it but in reality it has no value at all unless and until someone puts a value on it by purchasing it.  Think of the new car and how its value declines precipitously once you drive it off the showroom floor.

The same could be said for all our experiences and the untaken photos that fill our minds and the memories themselves.  What are they really worth?  The truth is that they have little if any real value except to us.  We love them and cherish them but they have no transferable value nor would people be willing to pay what we think they are worth.  They are worthless and without use except to us.

Art and music are much the same.  They belong to an industry in which their value is assigned in the moment, may not endure, and may not be equally valued by others.  Art that appears to be scribbles in color on a page has fetched millions.  It must have value, right?  Unless future generations no longer highly esteem that artist or the work of that artist.  There are plenty of collectibles that are no longer being collected.  Even the music of the world's greatest musical genius was not valued during his life and his compositions provided wrappers for the fish monger.  Bach had to be rediscovered by Felix Mendelssohn because the world had forgotten him and moved on.  It happens all the time.  Beauty is a largely worthless and useless commodity but who wants to live without it?

Is God useless?  He must seem to be to those who have figured out a way to live their days outside of His love and mercy.  Perhaps His value to us is not seen until we uncover the fragility and weakness of the things we think are valuable and useful.  Maybe eternal life is not highly valued and deemed useless to those whose present is filled with all the good things they can imagine.  But life is like a train wreck -- you do not see it come and after it comes nothing is the same.  Eternity becomes a very high value to those who hear the dreaded diagnosis from the doctor or who wake up to see that most of their lives have already been lived and yet they are not satisfied.

In the same way, forgiveness is not all that urgent, important, or valuable to a world that does not acknowledge sin.  If we figure a way around sin that does not require a Savior, God becomes largely irrelevant to us.  Except for this.  When those around us refuse to grant us a pass on our pet sins, we are still left to deal with them ourselves.  When guilt carried around inside of us refuses to be consoled by those who think it not such a big deal, we are left to our own devices to figure out a way to feel good about our failures and failings.  Then the worthless gift of forgiveness just might turn out to be of greater value to us than we thought.

Sometimes the law is not simply necessary but valuable to us as we weigh the Lord and His gifts.  That same law points us to a need we did not know and then the Spirit awakens us to the real value of a gift we did not esteem.  Until then.  God uses the law to point out to us what is of greater value by laying bare all our attempts to ignore our need of that mercy.  Then what was once useless to us turns out to be the most precious worthless gift of all.

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