“…you are not your own, you were bought at a price..” I Cor 6:19
Did you catch the Oscars last Sunday? 12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong’o won “Best Supporting Actress.” I was thrilled; it was by far my favorite movie last year. A true story, it highlights the painful abuse inflicted on black slaves by southern plantation owners in early America. Lupita’s character experienced the most severe beatings and trauma. Her performance was believable and riveting.
Like the character she portrayed in the movie, Lupita was teased and rejected growing up because of the color of her skin. So much so, she had one prayer: that God would make her skin lighter. In a recent speech she said, “The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself before I was in front of a mirror, because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment at being just as dark as I had been the day before.”
God didn’t lighten Lupita’s skin, but rather made her dark skin an asset. Now honored throughout the world for her beauty, glamor, and acting ability her former shame has been replaced with blessing! Isaiah 61:7-8 says, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.” God promises to replace our shame and disgrace with the joy of being sought after and valued.
In our recent Sunday posts we have been looking at God’s relationship with the Israelites. The Israelites, like Lupita, suffered racial prejudice and became slaves through no fault of their own. Pharaoh, their master, was like a cruel, abusive father, often angry with Israel no matter how hard she worked to try to please him. His demands were unreasonable, and kept changing. Her value was based on what she could do for him.
This week at my prayer group, each of us was struggling with our own sense of value: A father rejected relationship with his daughter - again, a mother of teens wondered what company will hire her after being a stay at home mom, and a divorcee’ is perplexed by an ex-husbands manipulative behavior. Could you have joined in? Are you are feeling undervalued or unappreciated?
The good news is, like Israel, we are pursued by God. Rather than wanting us for what we can do, He loves us unconditionally for who we are - His chosen, sought after, beloved. When Moses presented Israel with an offer for a marriage-like relationship with God, they overwhelmingly agreed to the proposal.
As was customary in an arranged Jewish marriage, a Bride Price was then negotiated. The amount of the Bride Price reflected the value of the bride to the prospective bridegroom and his family. In Exodus chapter 12, God agrees to pay the ultimate price for his bride to be, the Israelites. What was the bride price? The blood of a lamb.
Moses, in preparation for the final plague, told each family to take a one-year old male lamb without any defect and slaughter it. Then, taking its blood, they were to cover the door frames (top and sides) of their house. God said, 12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested." (Exodus 12:12-13; 30-31 NIV) The blood of the lambs on their door frames protected the Israelites from the plague and was the Bride Price paid by God to redeem them from belonging to Pharaoh. They were saved, set free and belonged to God.
Maybe you have experienced suffering or rejection through no fault of your own. God wants you to know that he sees, he cares, and he has a plan to rescue you. How badly does He want you? God himself was willing to suffer incredible pain in order to be with you. The sacrificial lamb in the Passover was a for-shadow of the sacrificial death of God’s only Son. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” Jesus paid the ultimate Bride Price, death on a cross, so that you could belong to Him. God says: You are valued, sought after, and loved.
I have to wonder, am I moved by God’s sacrifice and tender care? Or do I take it for granted and look to him only when I need something? Boy, if this is the case, am I not guilty of doing to him what others have done to me? If God loves me unconditionally, for who I am and not what I can do, shouldn’t I love him back in the same way? Let us say back to God: You are valued, sought after and loved.
--Laurel Bahr & Marsha Craig