Last week over 700 teens and 150 volunteers from across Canada descended upon Kamloops. BC for the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering. The conference happens every two years in select cities across Canada and seeks to create an atmosphere where teens can encounter God, realize and develop their gifts, and build community with other Christians.
I had the privilege of leading worship with a team of incredible people, during the large group gatherings. And I’ll tell you, listening to hundreds of young people worship God is guaranteed to get you fired up about Jesus. There were some incredible moments that I had the honor of being a part of. God is vibrantly moving in the hearts of the young people in our Anglican and Lutheran churches.
CLAY happens every two years in different locations across Canada. And in many ways I wish it happened every year. But, that would make it like every other youth conference out there. CLAY is different. It’s those four days, that sets the course of the two years to come; new friends, stronger relationships, new lessons and inspiration, and a closer connection built with God. Everyone who comes to CLAY is there for a reason, whether they realize it or not. God may dramatically change them at the gathering or seeds may be planted that will be cultivated later in life. This year’s conference focused on the theme of worth; your worth, my worth, our worth, and God’s worth.
The one thing that stuck with me the entire week, was something Scott Evans said:
“God’s plan, as beautiful and awesome as it is, is idiotic because it includes you and me.”
Self worth has always been something I’ve struggled with. I have a really hard time believing that God can use someone as messed up as I am, for the glory of His name. What could I possibly bring to the table? Why wouldn’t he use someone better? So, Scott’s question got me thinking, “Is there someone better?”
And I don’t mean this in any kind of arrogant way. There are so many examples in the Bible, where God chooses the least likely person to do incredible things, and those people are often the least qualified. Take Saul for example. The guy spends years hunting down Christians and killing them. Then on the way to Damascus, to kill more Christians, Saul is stopped dead in his tracks and God confronts him head on. He says: “Saul, why are persecuting me?” And instead of pounding him into the ground, God commissions him. What was once a powerful opposing force had be radically reclaimed for the glory of God.
“I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.” Acts 26:17b-18
Saul’s horrific history will be a significant catalyst in bringing people to Jesus. If God can use someone as messed up as Saul, maybe he can use me to. Saul’s worth is found in his failures, as much as its found in his triumphs.
Our culture teaches us that our worth is monetary. We read everyday that some celebrity’s net worth is in the billions, while another’s is only in the millions. And that value is 100% dependent on what they do, how much money they make, and how much people like them. We have been conditioned to associate worth with a monetary value. But, God’s standards are much lower than society’s, thank God. In His eyes, it’s not just what someone has done that makes them worthy, it’s who they are; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Our worth is found in Jesus. We were bought with His blood. Nothing can separate us from His love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the monetization of self worth and believe that I am only as valuable as that which I produce. And the moment I stop doing, I lose all value. And it’s a lie! You are so precious to God. When you hurt, He hurts with you. When you rejoice, He rejoices with you. His love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out. And if we truly believe that the answer to the following question is a no brainer.
“Who are you allowing to dictate your worth?”