We all have times when we wonder if we are good enough; if we measure up to other’s expectations. As a child, we wanted to be picked first in a game of dodge ball. As we grew and developed our imaginations, we wanted to play baseball, football, basketball, soccer or wrestle like some of our heroes. In our mind’s eye, we could play with determination like Cal Ripken, pass like Joe Montana, soar like Michael Jordan, score like Carli Lloyd, or hone the skill of takedowns like Dan Gable. In reality, we were not as successful, perhaps not good enough to make the team. As we prepared for college, we wondered if our ACT scores or our application were good enough. As we graduated and went for the interviews, we tried to prepare for any possible questions, but were our answers enough. The receipt of the first letter saying that someone else was chosen, but they would keep our application on file for potential future positions was the confirmation that we were not good enough. The fear of not finding the perfect job, that deteriorates into the fear of not finding a job and not providing for ourselves and our families has become a reality for many. The fear of not being smart enough, strong enough, good enough permeates our society and is often detrimental, destructive, and debilitating.
We may not be a superstar, an outstanding athlete, or a multi-millionaire, but each of us is a beloved child of God. We are who God intends us to be; we may not yet have reached our full potential, but we are God’s beloved. In Matthew, there is a discussion between John the Baptist and Jesus. John does not feel good enough to baptize Jesus; he feels that he is not worthy enough to baptize the Son of God. Yet, Jesus reassures him that this is God’s plan.
Matthew 3:13-17 Good News Translation
At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. But John tried to make him change his mind. “I ought to be baptized by you,” John said, “and yet you have come to me!”
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But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires.” So John agreed.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and lighting on him. Then a voice said from heaven, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased.”
All that were present heard the proclamation of God. For all of us who are baptized, we have acknowledged and accepted God’s proclamation of being God’s beloved children. Through God’s grace we are proclaimed good enough. It is not something we earn; it is a gift. When our world tells us we are not good enough, our heart tells us differently. As Christians our identity is grounded in the unconditional love of God and seeing all as God’s beloved children; baptized or not, faithful or unfaithful, Christian or non-Christian, successful or indigent, God has claimed all as beloved children. It forms who we are, how we act, and what we say. However, over time and with repeated voices of teachers, bullies, leaders, media, and society telling us we are not good enough the proclamation of God seems to be drowned out and we forget who we are. We also forget who others are and we may begin to judge, destructively criticize others as being lazy, selfish, dishonest or cruel. We may see ourselves as better than someone else and not as an equal in God’s sight. We are the ones that reflect God’s love and acceptance to the world.
May the New Year’s resolution that you strive to keep this year be to reflect God’s love to all; without parameters, exceptions or conditions. It will not be easy, but knowing you are God’s beloved child and everyone else is God’s beloved is a start. For those that are particularly difficult to love, God is there to help. May this year be a kinder, gentler, more loving and inclusive year! God’s blessing and peace be with you.