It's a two-edged sword. If nothing I do, think, or believe earns me a spot in heaven, then I'm completely helpless in my own destiny. On the other hand, if my salvation is God's gift, and there is nothing I can do to mess it up, this is a huge relief! I do, think, and believe in response to -- not to attain -- this life-changing gift.
My shame/imperfection guru, Brene Brown (yeah, her again!) studied stories from hundreds of people. She found that the only difference between people who experienced love and belonging in their lives and the people who didn't was that the people who did believed they were worthy of love and belonging.
So many of us have grown up in a shame spiral, unable to envision our worthiness. We are taught that our worthiness is directly tied to our productivity, our success, our accomplishments. We are only worthy if we're successful, rich, thin, young. The theory falls short, though, when we fail to produce or live up to those expectations, and we begin to believe we are worthless.
But God says we are worthy just because we are. Think on that a minute. We are worthy. Not because we give everything of ourselves for another. Not because we have climbed our way up the corporate ladder. Not because we are "good." We are worthy simply because we are.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ephesians 2:4-10
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.