By now most of you would have seen the ads for L’Oréal cosmetics with its slogan, “Because I’m worth it”. Other versions of the slogan have been “Because you’re worth it” and “Because we’re worth it”. It speaks loud and clear of a culture which is self-indulgent, pampered, selfish, and spoiled rotten.
We of course expect such things from secular advertisers. But what we don’t expect – or shouldn’t expect – is to find the same mindset in the Christian community. Yet tragically, the same attitude prevails in much of Western Christendom.
Everywhere we look we find this poisonous disposition. Christians have simply imbibed deeply of the surrounding culture, and have incorporated the worldly philosophy of life as their own. If everyone in the world is looking out for number one, then we can expect to see this same understanding in our churches.
A me-centred gospel has for too long been preached, resulting in me-centred Christians. A Christ-centred, world-denying and self-crucifying gospel is seldom heard anymore. A trip to any local Christian bookstore will quickly verify what sort of message we are soaking up. Consider some of the titles which have been big sellers over recent years:
–Become a Better You (Joel Osteen)
–Eat the Cookies . . . Buy the Shoes: Giving Yourself Permission to Lighten Up (Joyce Meyer)
–You Can Have a New Beginning (Morris Cerullo)
–8 Steps to Create the Life You Want (Creflo A. Dollar)
–Your Best Life Now (Joel Osteen)
–Love Your Life: Living Happy, Healthy, and Whole (Victoria Osteen)
–How to Succeed at Being Yourself (Joyce Meyer)
–It’s Your Time (Joel Osteen)
–The Power of Your Words: How God Can Bless Your Life Through the Words You Speak (Robert Morris)
–God Wants You Rich (Brian Houston)
Have you ever seen so many you’s and your’s? Every single title has these words in it. It seems that for these authors, it’s all about me. This is a gospel message which seems to be devoted entirely to self. It is all me, me, me.
Whatever happened to Jesus? Whatever happened to the majesty of God? Whatever happened to a crucified saviour who had nowhere to lay his head? Whatever happened to the cruciform life? Whatever happened to doing all things for the glory of God?
What we have here is the L’Oréal version of Christianity. “Because you’re worth it.” It’s the ‘y’ word all over again. It is all about you. The entire Christian life revolves around you and your wants. The universe exists for you. God is here to serve you.
The L’Oréal version of the gospel is no different than New Age paganism. They are into the exact same ‘you’ trip. Consider the closing words of Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling New Age mumbo-jumbo book, The Secret:
“The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wonderful thing you experience, is all there for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the universe. You are the heir of the kingdom. You are the perfection of life. And now you know The Secret.”
That sounds like something that comes straight out of a Joel Osteen or a Joyce Meyer book. Indeed, Byrne managed to cram the ‘y’ word 17 times in that one lousy paragraph. But I suspect you will find a similar ‘y’ count in any of the above titles.
Both are pushing an appealing, self-centred message: ‘it’s all about you’. But this message is directly and absolutely opposed to the Christian message. The biblical message is not about you at all. It is about the one who came and died a horrible death so that we might be set free from the slave market of sin, and so that God could receive the glory that he deserves.
Only He is worth it – not us. Only God deserves all the attention, all the glory, all the worship, and all the acclaim. Not us. It is Jesus that every knee will one day bow to. It is Jesus that we honour. It is Jesus that we glorify. He alone is worth it.
When two young Moravians were setting sail for the opposite end of the world to preach the gospel to enslaved Indians, by selling themselves into slavery, they waved goodbye to their families and loved ones, knowing they would never see them again.
Of course the family members were grief-stricken, pleading with them to reconsider. But they would not. They had a glimpse of what Jesus had done for them, and they could not do anything less in return. Thus as the boat departed, the two young missionaries raised their clasped hands into the air and shouted, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”
They knew perfectly well that this life was not about them. It was about the one who loved us so much that he paid the ultimate price for us. They knew that they were not their own, but that they were bought with a price. Thus from henceforth they no longer lived for themselves, but for the one who alone is worthy of all our lives, all our efforts, all our time, all our devotion, all our talents, and all our riches.
These two young missionaries came from the Christian community established by Count Zinzendorf in Germany in the eighteenth century. Zinzendorf himself had been transformed by an encounter with Christ in an art gallery of all places.
Yes, that visit to a Dusseldorf art gallery when he was around 19 years of age changed his life. He stood transfixed in front of the painting “Ecce Homo” (Pilate’s words to the crowd, “Behold the man”) by Domenico Feti. For hours he stared at the painting and its caption, “All this I did for thee, What hast thou done for Me?” He knew that the question was aimed at him, and that he had to respond.
All of us need to respond to that question as well: “This I have done for you, what will you do for me?” It is not about us, it is about Him – because He’s worth it. So what will you do for Him?