In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared debunks the myths that you’re not good enough—a myth we often tell ourselves, or the church tells us, particularly in Lent. You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1 WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple here.
The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.
This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith.
As we wind up the first full week of Lent today, if you are observing the season, you might be finding your Lenten disciplines beginning to be a bit more of a struggle—if they weren’t already. I know we’ve all already had to give up so much during this past year, that giving up something extra in Lent can feel like a true burden (which is one of the reasons why last week I talked about how Lent is about much more than giving something up!).
But I know I’ve struggled more than normal in my own disciplines this year, and I would imagine I’m not alone. All of this brings out one of the unintended consequences that Lent can sometimes result in: you just feel worse about yourself than when you started. And, given that sometimes it might feel like the big goal of Christianity is to make you feel worse about yourself, I think this is a good week to break the myth that you’re not good enough.
In my evangelical upbringing, I grew up with a fairly normal amount of guilt—at least, normal for evangelical Christianity. Like other church traditions, I often felt like I just couldn’t measure up to the expectations of God and the church. I felt like I did way too much sinning. I was always confessing to God. I was always trying to do better… and never quite enough.
While contrition for the sins we’ve done, for the things we’ve left undone, while this is an important part of the spiritual life, an important part of growing and maturing spiritually, it can get out of hand when you start truly doubting whether you are good enough for God, good enough for the church, good enough for anything.
So, let me state one thing very clearly: you are good enough for God. You are so good, that God in Christ was willing to lay aside the powers of divinity and suffer death on a cross so that you might know how much God loved you, so that God could forgive your sins and heal your brokenness. You matter very much to God. And, even though we don’t know each other, you matter to me as a priest. I’m honest. You do.
One of the things I love about the catechism of The Episcopal Church, as it is articulated in our Book of Common Prayer is where it begins. Our catechism begins with the question, “What are we by nature?” Given so many of the messages I’d heard from the church over the years, my own answer would probably have been something like “we are sinners” or “we are all broken” or “we are all wretches in need of God’s grace.”
But that’s not the answer our prayer book gives. Instead, it says, “We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.” The prayer book reminds us that, though we do all have our own brokenness, though we all have our own struggles and sins, that is not at the core of our nature. The core of our nature is the image of God, pressed upon your very soul. At your beginning, you are good.
The catechism goes on to acknowledge that humans have misused our freedom from the very beginning but that our help is in a God who revealed God’s true nature to us and who sent Jesus Christ to bring us back home, to make us truly the children of God we were meant to be.
So, if you’re feeling at this early part of Lent that you’re not good enough, I’d encourage you to perhaps spend some time in stillness, practicing the presence of God and letting God’s love wash over you.
And if you are in a church that tells you you’re not good enough, that your messed up or damaged goods—particularly if you are getting that message from the church because of your gender or sexuality—then I’d encourage you to do what I say at the end of every one of these segments: live your faith out in a community that accepts you and challenges you to be better tomorrow than you are today.
But you can’t grow to be better tomorrow unless you first know that you are loved today. And who you are, particularly your gender or sexuality, is never something broken. It is the way God has created you. And it is beautiful—and God wants to harness who you are in good and powerful ways.
You are a beloved child of God, good at your creation—gay, straight, cis, trans, someone who is doing great at Lent or someone who cannot seem to get through one day right this year. NO matter who you are good as you were created. And the image of God is pressed in your very being. The capability of being the hands and feet, of being the words and actions of the love of Jesus in this world is who you are meant to be. But you cannot show others God’s love unless you first feel it yourself, until you know that you are indeed enough… more than enough… you are indeed beloved.
Thanks for being with me. To find out more about my parish, you can go to sjegh.com. Until next time, remember, protest like Jesus, love recklessly, and live your faith out in a community that accepts you but also challenges you to be better tomorrow than you are today.