Just Another Bum

Rocky Balboa is talking to Adrian and he says:

“Who am I kiddin’? I ain’t even in the guy’s league…It don’t matter, ’cause I was nobody before…I was nobody. That don’t matter either, ya know…It really don’t matter if I lose this fight. It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed. And if I can go that distance, ya see, and that bell rings, ya know, and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, ya see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”

Except it’s not Rocky talking, it’s you. The parts deep down inside you as you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and button your shirt and rush to that breakfast meeting and cram in that counseling session and when are you going to squeeze in time for sermon prep?

If our church would just grow to _____ , then I’d know I’m not a bum.

If I could just get ______ followers on Twitter, then I’d know I’m not a bum.

If we could just meet this goal, then I’d know…

But You Wouldn’t

The problem with our reasoning that feels so inherently natural is that it actually doesn’t work.

Because when we live under fear of man—putting our worth and value in the hands of what other people think about us—we are walking on very shaky ground. Other broken people cannot fix a broken person, and giving the keys to how you feel about yourself to those broken people is a recipe for emotional and spiritual instability.

Opinions will change, feelings will fade, people will overlook and forget—and you will be left with the unappealing crumbs of something you once thought so valuable.

A Better Source

The biblical cure for fear of man is the fear of God—caring more about what God thinks about you than anything or anyone else. It’s looking to God for your worth, identity and validation, rather than other broken people.

And the good news is that if you are in Christ, God thinks very highly of you.

You are called His son or daughter, adopted into His family, gifted the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

In Matthew 3:17 Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River and all of a sudden the heavens open up and a loud voice from heaven says “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The unbridled, weighty affirmation of God was pouring out on His beloved Son.

And the staggering thing is that if you are in Christ, you are not just some red-headed step-child that God merely puts up with. No, you are a full heir with Christ, and you stand there in that river with Him while God speaks over you: “This is my beloved son (or daughter), in whom I am well pleased.”

If the gospel is true and you are in Christ, then God is well pleased with you. He loves you and your standing with Him is not in question. He has gifted you with a royal identity that will never change or be diminished. Your worth is not found in what other humans think about you, but in what a God of unfathomable worth says about you. And what He says about you will never change because it’s based off of Jesus’ righteousness and not yours.

If He says that you are His child and that He is well pleased with you, then who cares what other people think? What weight do they hold over you? You are free to serve God faithfully and speak the truth boldly without worrying about losing favor with people. You are free to lay down the lesser identities you try to make for yourself and pick up the only secure and eternal identity that is offered to you in Christ.

If you are in Christ, God has eternally declared that you are not a bum.

But He doesn’t stop there—He calls you child, a friend, a co-heir with Christ. Only the unbridled affirmation of God in the gospel can uproot the fear of man.

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

-Proverbs 29:25

Published July 14, 2015