I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.’Psalms 16:5
Over the past several weeks, the word ‘essential’ has been carelessly tossed around like so much rubbish.
The definition of essential, as a noun, means: ‘a thing that is absolutely necessary.’
Our perspectives are being shifted in many ways. We’ve realized that not everything in our life is truly ‘essential’. Just go to any grocery store with your normal list, and very quickly, you will adjust your expectations on what is ‘needed.’
The problem I have with this term has little to do with actual physical things, essential or non-essential, the problem I have is how flippantly it seems to have bled over into describing people- actual people. When we start referring to people as essential and non-essential, the lines begin to blur, what exactly are we referring to? Seems like there is a very slippery slope here.
I am fully aware that certain jobs may be rightly deemed more necessary at certain times for certain reasons. During this time of ‘social distancing’, some can’t do their jobs as they normally would. We are all having to adapt and figure things out day by day.
But this blanket term ‘essential’ seems to encompass people as well as their actual job. Perhaps, this is because, for so long, we have let our jobs be a measuring stick for how important we are. Our identities have gotten so entangled in our jobs, we rarely know where one starts and the other ends. When you meet someone for the first time, without fail, one of the first questions asked is, “What do you do?”
Who are we apart from our job? Who are we apart from where we graduated from school, which neighborhood we hail from?
Our worth is often based on the answers to these questions. Our value as a person has gotten so grossly enmeshed in our job, titles, position, and income – that without those things, many of us have no idea who we really are. When you strip all of these things away, what is left?
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.Psalms 139: 13-14
Perhaps now is the ideal time to tease apart who we are apart from what we do – let’s figure out who we really are, and what is truly is essential in us. —I am sure we each have some non-essential heart stuff we can throw out.
For the record, each of us is essential. Each of us matter, regardless of what you do, whatever your station in life is – you are important.
In Christ, we are new creations, we are made holy and righteous because of him. Nothing you do or don’t do can change that, nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:31-39)
I am not referring to the glib and overused ‘everyone is special’ mantra that this generation has abused and twisted into a perverse version of ‘fairness’.
Instead, I am referring to the unique beauty we each hold as His image bearers. Each one of us is uniquely important, each one of has has different strengths, weaknesses, dreams, talents, and hopes. This is beautiful, and we should celebrate and appreciate these differences. Instead, we have wrongly compared and lifted one up over the other. This should not be. We have failed to recall that comparing is the thief of all joy, that comparing an apple to an orange is not a right comparison.
To say some one holds more value than another is simply absurd. I would love to see our thinking shift and for us to start admiring one another’s differences and appreciating who we are in Christ – which is where our value comes from. May we start to appreciate and support one another instead of tearing each other down.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIV)
Whatever part you play, whether you be an ‘eye, a pinky toe, the stomach, the ear, or the brains’ – you are uniquely valuable; your worth is immeasurable and incomparable to other’s values.
Too often, we fail to recognize the value of something until we lose it or hurt it. Anyone who has ever gotten a tiny paper cut or stubbed their toe, quickly realized that these little parts of us, though we usually don’t even think about them, make a big impact on our life and well being. Don’t be guilty in discounting anyone as more or less valuable because their job is deemed more or less essential.
Look past the obvious and ask God to give you eyes to see people as He sees them. Ask him to show you who the people in your life are – in Him. If we can start filtering how we see people through His lenses, oh my, I imagine we will start seeing so much more beauty!
We are all essential in Him. You are wonderfully made.
Don’t forget or dismiss it.