Is "Unworthy" Worthless?

The question's relevance is found in the way we hear the references to our being unworthy in the Bible and in the liturgy of the church: "Say, 'We are worthless slaves,; we have only done what we ought to have done.'" Luke 17: 10, NRSV The CEV reads, "Say, 'We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty.'" The traditional UMC Communion liturgy has, in the prayer of humble access, "We are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under thy table..."

The use of "unworthy" does become a stumbling block. Other words, biblical and otherwise, exist. "Fear of God" is a hindrance to many as well. Should we just use different words now that so many hear them as curses rather than blessings, as nullifying, rather than amplifying, our access to God grace in Jesus?

For me the answer is yes, especially if by the words we automatically do more harm than good. This is much easier to do if your theology embraces our being created in God's image to love and be loved. And that the object of following Jesus is not to diminish us but to restore our true humanity.

Being told that we are worthless? It's worthless. Of course the essence of grace is that it comes unearned and with no entitlement. When it comes to grace, God always makes the first move. But God initiates covenant love because we are worth redeeming, created in God's image.



Comments

  1. Humility in the face of truth is hard to swallow for a culture hypersensitive to criticism. A theology that is not hamstrung by dated language or irrelevant jargon is helpful. The same is true of worship practice.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I think "hamstrung" is a good choice. When I yanked my hamstring, I could still walk, but just barely and with much pain. Why make faith and worship something that is painful for people?

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