“We’re not worthy. We’re not worthy.” It’s possible that when you think of those lines, you picture Wayne and Garth on their knees in front of Alice Cooper. They were sure that they did not deserve to be in his presence. There are better stories, though. Stories like Isaiah falling to his knees because he is before the throne of God. Then there is the story about the Centurion whose servant was sick. He sent messengers to Jesus with the words, “I am not worthy to have you in my house.” The great man of God, John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. Each of those stories reflects humility. The people in those stories believed that they had reason to be incredibly grateful to be in the presence of their heroes.
As Paul spoke at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, the Jews got jealous in their hearts and abusive in their language. Paul told them he had to speak to them first, but because of their rejection of the Word, he was going to turn to the Gentiles. He said, “You don’t consider yourselves worthy of eternal life.” Did they not consider themselves worth saving? Were they having a self-esteem crisis? No, they weren’t. They were not about to expel Paul from town because they had too low a view of themselves. Their actions were not prompted by humility. What does it mean that they did not count themselves worthy of eternal life?
When Jesus was sending out the twelve to the lost sheep of Israel, he told them, “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matthew 10:11-15; NIV).
Later, Jesus told a parable about a man who hosted a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out messengers with invitations, but those he invited didn’t come. Some just went on with their own business; others actually killed the messengers. The man killed those who had harmed the messengers, burned their city, and then gave this explanation and command: “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find” (Matthew 22:8-9; NIV). According to the parable, the banquet was filled to capacity, with good and bad people.
The people who were originally invited didn’t deserve to come. But people good and bad, who were not originally invited, were worthy. Why is that? What made the home worthy for the apostles to stay in on their journey? Worthiness in these contexts is based entirely on willingness to listen to what is said, and willingness to accept the invitation that is offered. Neither those who would not listen, nor those who rejected the invitation were deserving. Understand, it isn’t that their lack of worthiness was discovered by their rejection. It was the rejection that made them unworthy.
Why didn’t the Jews consider themselves worthy of eternal life? It was more pride than humility, I promise. They were unworthy. They were unworthy because they would not believe.
Are you worthy? You are if you’ll listen, follow, and believe. That’s Life at Work?