We’re at a youth group teaching at the church, it’s Monday and the whole group is having teaching together. Our youth leader Rita is to have the devotional today.
‘How much is this worth?’ she asks, holding up a £10 note. Bit of a stupid question, right? Then she scrunches the note up into a ball, and although it’s all creased we still agree that it’s worth £10. But Rita doesn’t give up. Now she stands on it, stains it and tears it, and now we start to doubt. It hardly looks like a £10 note any longer, it can't be worth as much now, surely? Nevertheless, she still maintains that it’s worth exactly the same, £10.
Then she starts to talk about our worth. She says that our worth is unchangeable, that we are valuable because we’re created by God and that nothing we do or don’t do can change our worth. ‘What? Can that really be true?’ I think to myself, and I’m probably not the only one. In truth it feels like you are worth more when you do something good, and less worth if you do something bad. When I’ve done something really good, like getting an ‘A’ in my exams, people praise me and I feel very valuable. When I buy new clothes, or get a new hairstyle that makes the guys look at me, then I also feel worth more. But now Rita’s standing there telling me that I can’t do anything to make myself more, or less, valuable. Can I really just relax? Don’t my actions give me any worth? ‘Have you ever thought of it like that?’ asks my friend. She gives me a nudge in the side … I wasn’t following the devotional any longer.
Now I’m paying attention and listening to Rita again. ‘We can come to Jesus just as we are,’ she says. ‘Dirty, broken, sad, hungry, thirsty, downtrodden … just as we are, whatever we feel like, without any masks. He knows everything anyway, so we don’t need to pretend. And we’re loved just as we are, we are valued just as we are, because our value lies in the fact that we are God’s creation. In the same way that a work of art is valuable because of the artist’s name, we have our value in God.’
She’s just standing there saying that I can’t do anything to be worth more or less. Can I really just relax?
The people around me start to wriggle a bit on their chairs, they obviously think the devotional has been long enough already. But today I’m really interested, this time it really touched my heart. Just think, I don’t need to do anything, I am already valuable!
I fish out my mobile and note down the Bible verses she’s reading. It’s Psalm 139:14–17, but I just pick up snippets of what she reads: ‘… wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works … Your eyes saw me … How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!’
Everybody gets up and starts to leave, impatient to get out, but I turn to my friend and smile, ‘That was a pretty good devotional tonight, wasn’t it?’