With Jesus, You’re More Than Enough.
by James Madsen, Pastor of Discipleship
Every New Year’s resolution has the undercurrent of shame crying out, “I am not good enough. I should really be better!” This sense of shame is what Scott Sauls calls “a low-grade anxiety—that nags and needles at the soul. It is a fever without a temperature, a low-grade and ever-present condition that tells us we are less than, smaller than, and other than what we ought to be.” We all feel it, but we struggle to name it because the very core of our identity in our culture is based upon our successes and failures. This voice of shame is really the voice of the Serpent, going back to the Garden of Eden, calling you to question, “Am I enough?”
Henri Nouwen talks about the five lies of identity:
1. I am what I have.
2. I am what I do.
3. I am what other people say or think of me.
4. I am nothing more than my worst moment.
5. I am nothing less than my best moment.
When we live by these lies, we are enslaved to what others think about us—and even worse, enslaved to what we think about ourselves. At the core of our culture is an identity crisis. We spend so much energy trying to manage our identity, and it is exhausting. The fruit of this lifestyle is anxiety, despair, people pleasing, or narcissism.
Do you see how this is lived out in your own life? Where does that voice in your head say, “You are not enough”? In January, we tend to double down with our resolve, trying to manage the gap between how we really are and what we think we should be. We try harder to be all we can be and find new ways to delude ourselves into thinking that we’re not really that bad.
The good news of the gospel is that God does not say, “You are your successes and failures.” In fact, there is freedom from the bondage of having to measure up. But first we must confess that we are not enough. Jesus continually raises the bar to those who think they are righteous by their own efforts. He says things like “being angry at your brother is the equivalent to being a murderer,” or “be perfect like my Father in heaven.” He said these things so we’d see all the ways we’re not enough.
That’s why He came.
Jesus loves us so much that He took all of our brokenness, all of our sin, all of our “not enoughness” upon Himself . . . and He died the death we deserved on the cross. He paid the penalty that we deserved. This is mercy. And there is more! He not only forgives us of our sin, but He offers to us His perfect record of obedience so that when God the Father sees us, He sees only the perfection of Christ. This is grace. As the Apostle Paul writes: “God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is why Paul says we are holy and blameless: because the perfection of Christ is credited as our own. God offers us these gifts of grace and mercy by faith, meaning that we trust in the work of Jesus on the cross instead of putting our faith in our self-improvement, self-effort, or self-righteousness. In Christ, we have a new identity. We are not the mistakes we have made, we are not the resolutions we have failed to keep, we are not who our culture says we are. You see, in Christ we are beloved, accepted, secure, redeemed, whole, holy, and more than enough. So if you feel compelled to make some resolutions this New Year, stop listening to the false voices asking if you are enough, and trust who Jesus says you are: more than enough!