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Speaking in Stories
Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers

Beloved Children of God

We recently observed the renewal of our baptism vows at my church. We remembered the baptism of Jesus, and how God said, “”This is my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.” It’s important to note when this happened in the life of Christ. Jesus had not done anything yet to earn God’s approval. He had not preached one sermon. He had not performed one miracle. He had not called one disciple. Yet God said, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus did not have to earn God’s love and grace, nor do we.

Unfortunately, we do not get much of that kind of unconditional love in America. Instead, in our culture, people have to EARN their worth. And we usually earn it through what one author calls the “three A’s of American worth.” The first A is affluence. We earn our worth in this country by having financial assets. The second A is appearance. We earn our worth in this country by being handsome or beautiful. This is especially true for women. In fact, the expectations of beauty are downright oppressive to girls and women, with standards that are impossible to meet. And the third A is accomplishments. We earn our worth in this country by being successful, by producing, by excelling in our vocation. But none of us can fully measure up to all of these impossible standards. And trying to do so is utterly exhausting. We can never be rich enough, pretty enough, or successful enough. Proving our worth is a dead end endeavor.

Thankfully, in God’s eyes, we don’t have to earn our worth. We simply need to accept our worth as adopted and beloved children of God. Like Jesus at his baptism, we need to hear and believe God’s words, “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”