Unworthiness vs. Shame

But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. Luke 3:16

John seemed to think he was unworthy to untie Jesus’s sandals. That was a role fit for a slave, and John didn’t feel he was even good enough for that. 

Theologically, it seems that John is right. Jesus is God after all, and compared to God, we are nothing. God is infinite, we are specks of dust; God is eternal, we are the tick of a second; God is omnipotent, we can’t even get the can opener to work half the time. 

And yet, there’s a sense of unworthiness that’s not helpful, because it can turn to shame. We can feel more unworthy than is appropriate. Or perhaps it’s best to say, we can feel shameful – and that’s never appropriate. 

You see, Jesus had no problem, ever, with people loving him – even when that came to his feet! Just a few chapters later, a woman “began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Jesus described that action as an act of love, and he welcomed it. In fact, Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”(see Luke 7:37-50). I suppose if John, in love, had sought to untie Jesus’s sandals, Jesus would have been just fine with it!

So as you think of God’s awesome power and God’s infinite being, don’t forget that what God is really after is your love. Sure, you’re not infinite and not all powerful – but, because you are made in God’s image, you can love. And in that sense, you are indeed worthy. Pray about these things today.