During Tim’s talk last Thursday, one of his main points was that Jesus doesn’t give up on anyone, and he used Paul as a great example of this truth. As he made this very important point, he talked about how Satan tries to make us think less of ourselves, how Satan tries to convince us that we have been given up on – by people, Jesus, ourselves, whoever. Tim summed this idea up by saying, “Satan plants seeds of unworthiness” This is so, so true. Satan absolutely loves making us think that we are unworthy of so many things and in so many ways.
I think a man named Aeneas who we meet near the end of Acts 9 understood what it was like to feel unworthy. We are told that Aeneas had been “bedridden for eight years” because he was paralyzed. This is a man who had to question his worth. He had not been paralyzed his entire life, so I would think knowing what his life was like before the paralysis made it that much more difficult for him to handle being bedridden. Add to that the common belief in his day that physical ailments were a punishment from God, and we have a powerful combination of factors that contributed to this man questioning his worth.
Then he meets Peter. We read about their brief encounter in Acts 9:34, “And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose.” For the first time in 8 years (for perspective, think about where you were 8 years ago), Aeneas stood up and walked.
This is a big deal. Obviously, the man is physically healed and that’s important. But there is so much more going on. First of all, Peter called Aeneas by name. Don’t miss that. He called him by name. Chances are that Aeneas didn’t hear his name called very often, and that is dehumanizing. He no doubt questioned his worth as a person. Peter gives that back to him simply by calling him by name. (This is a huge point. Advocates for people who are journeying through homelessness frequently talk about the importance of asking someone’s name when you give them some money or food. That way they’re not a cause; they’re a person. Remember Joe?)
Satan had been planting seeds of unworthiness in Aeneas’ life for at least 8 years, but in one moment Jesus through Peter weeded out anything that had grown from those seeds. He helped Aeneas see his worth.
So often our worth is tied up in our identity. This is so dangerous. If your identity is being a good student and you have a rough semester, then you begin to question your worth. If your identity is being wealthy and you lose your money, then you question your worth. So to keep this from happening to keep from questioning our worth, you have to find your identity in something that won’t leave you.
That’s Jesus, and Jesus alone. He’s not going anywhere. He loves you no matter who you are and what you’ve done. Find your identity in being someone that Jesus loves and you will never have to question your worth.