Our worthiness is given to us, like our DNA, like our genes. We were created in “the image and likeness of God.” That was resolved in the first chapter of the Bible (Genesis 1:26)! But not many unpackaged that for us—in its immense and life changing implications.
All these reformers have come along, thinking they are renewing Christianity, but unless they go to the mystical level, they never really do. Protestantism didn’t really reform Catholic Christianity, unless it moved to the mystical level. It was just another kind of worthiness contest: prove you made “a personal decision for Jesus.” Or perhaps being against gay marriage and abortion are the worthiness contests today. It is all back on you to do it right. It is not trust in God, it is trust in ourselves to get it right. It is still “works righteousness” as the Lutherans and others called it. Works righteousness is the only thing the ego can understand, and low level awareness will always find another way to prove that I am worthy. It cannot receive radical grace…
Grace is always a humiliation for the ego. Salvation is always a defeat for the ego; because I want to feel, “I’ve done something to accomplish this, haven’t I?” That’s the only way the ego feels satisfied and competent.
At some point, we must realize that salvation is absolutely, objectively, metaphysically, universally a FREE GIFT, and all we can do is RECEIVE IT. It’s free for the taking, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with being worthy of it.
We are all unworthy. If receiving the Eucharist depends on worthiness, no one would be in line, including the presiding clergy, Archbishops and Popes. Why do we waste time trying to prove that I’m better than you, I’m higher than you, I’m holier than you, I understand better than you, I’m purer than you? Don’t even go there! Just surrender to grace, which will feel like a kind of death. And it is!
Richard Rohr, adapted from The Cosmic Christ (talks on CD - disc 1)
This rings very true to me… for so many years I struggled with the need to feel “satisfied and competent”, not realising that to the extent that I met this need in myself, to that same extent I resisted the work of grace in my own heart.
So often in the church we perpetuate this, putting “tests of orthodoxy” (or of liberalism!) in the way of people who are simply looking for God. We must stop it. If as ordinary Christians we can’t stop it happening around us, then at least we can refuse to do it ourselves, and we can reach out in love and acceptance to those who are rejected and marginalised—even if that means we are rejected and marginalised ourselves. That doesn’t matter. Jesus knew this would happen, and he knew that this rejection was itself one of the gates into the Kingdom (Matthew 5.10-11)