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Am I Really “Worth Dying For”?

June 20, 2011

Someone recently shared a song with me by Mikeschair titled “Someone Worth Dying For”.  Here is the song in case you (like me) haven’t heard it.

I think that song is beautiful, heartfelt . . . and wrong.  Ok, before you get upset, let me clarify what I mean and what I don’t mean.  I totally agree with this song when it says that Jesus’ death on the cross shows His extreme love for us.  Scripture is clear on this point

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” ~ Romans 5:8

I agree that it should blow us away that Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to DIE for us.  Awesome!  But, this song goes a lot further than that.  The question in my mind is this: does the fact that Jesus loved us so much really translate to OUR worth?  It seems like there is a jump in assumption there that I am not sure is really biblical (or logical).

Presumably, the logic that this song is drawing on is this: since Jesus loved me so much, I must be very valuable (worth dying for).  The problem with this reasoning is that it commits a classical logical fallacy called “Affirming the Consequent”.  This is where you assume that there can be no other explanation except the one you propose.  An example of this would be: If people have the flu, they cough. Kristin is coughing. Therefore, Kristin has the flu.  The obvious flaw in reasoning here is that there are other things which can have the same symptoms.  The same is true with assumption that we are valuable because Jesus died for us.  There could be other reasons for Jesus to die other than because we are valuable (strictly from a logical perspective).  Are you still with me?

In addition to the logical fallacy, I believe the idea of Jesus loving us enough to die for us (because we are worth it) presents a very human view of love, not a biblical view.  A human view of love is that you love those who merit it.  You love those who are “worthy” of being loved.  If you are wealthy, smart, attractive, funny, successful, etc. then I may love you.  The biblical idea of love contrasts this drastically.  God calls us to love our enemies (Matt 5:44).  Notice he doesn’t just tell us to be kind to them, but to LOVE them.  Additionally, the bible says God loves the whole world (John 3:16).  This means everyone: you, me, Hitler, and Osama Bin Laden.  Rom 5:8 tells us that God loved us while we were still sinners, as Driscoll says, “totally jacked up in every way”.

I want to go back to the logical fallacy for a moment.  As I said above there could be other reasons Jesus would die for us other than because we were worth it.  Let me throw one alternative reason out there (the one I believe to be biblical) to compete with the one from the song: perhaps Jesus died to express His love for us as a direct result of the fact that He is love (1 John 4:16).  Love is His very nature.  He cannot help but express it because it is who He is.  Does God need a reason to love us?  No.  If He did, He wouldn’t be God.  God loves unconditionally because of His wonderful divine goodness, not because of our merit.  I think we can all agree on that.

So, if that is really true (that God doesn’t need a reason to love the things He made) this means His love for something He created does NOT necessarily imply it merits or is worthy of that love.  Whatever is loved by God can never boast they are worthy of that love because God loves them regardless.

In fact, the Scriptures state just the opposite.  God loves us in spite of our “worth”, not because of it.

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.  God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.  Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” ~ 1 Cor 1:26-31

Jesus was modeling His command to us to “love your enemies” when He went to the cross for us.

“For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” ~ Romans 5:10

The message of the cross is not one about our worth, but about Jesus’ worth.  In fact, that’s the whole point.  As Rom 3:12 says we were “worthless” in our sin (also see Matt 25:30).

“All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” ~ Romans 3:12

We needed Jesus who is “worthy” to come and take our place.  He is the only one worthy.  Revelation drives this home by pointing out He is the only one worthy to open the scroll (Rev 5:3-5).  It is why the angels in heaven repeat over and over “WORTHY, WORTHY, WORTHY is the Lamb who was slain…”  John the Baptist recognized that even though he was the greatest man to ever live (Matt 11:11) he wasn’t even worthy to untie the saddles of Jesus (Mk 1:7).

On the cross, we should see our own lack of worth and desperate need for one who is worthy.  I believe to think otherwise frustrates grace.  It certainly could lend itself to the kind of boasting that Paul warns against in Eph 2:8-9.  In fact, at times in the song it almost comes across that way: “You’re someone worth dying for! You’re someone worth dying for! You’re someone worth dying for!”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus didn’t go to the cross because I was “worth it”.  He went because He was.  This was God’s plan before the foundation of the world.  Jesus went to the cross, not primarily for us (although that was one reason), but primarily to be obedient to the Father.  The Father had the Son killed to glorify Him (Isaiah 53:10-12).  The whole of the bible is about this act of glorification of the Son (John 13:31-32).  This is the great mystery.  God purposed for Christ to die so that He might be glorified (John 12:23, 27).  Philippians 2 tells us this resulted in Jesus being exalted to the highest place and being given a name that is above every name.  This was God’s plan.  We are along for the ride.

I love the heart at the core of this song that wants to find our worth in Christ.  However, I just think it is too “me” centered.  I think the greatest encouragement is that God loves us even though we are NOT worth it.  Do you see the focus shift there?  I’m not “someone worth dying for” (as they lyrics say).  A true grasp of grace is realizing that Jesus loves me no matter what I do, no matter what I’ve done, no matter if I fail, no matter if I stumble . . . because of how much HE is worth. The pressure is off to perform, to earn it.  We rest in His worth.

Our esteem is in Christ, not self.  Because He is so great and everything He says is true, we can rest confidently in who we are because He says we are Saints (Rom 6:1-6), we are forgiven (Rom 5:1), we are adopted children (Rom 8:23), we are clean (Eph 1:6-8), we are created and formed by God (Psalm 139), we are not mistakes (Eph 2:10), and we are righteous (2 Cor 5:21).  All of this is rooted in HIS worth, in HIS accomplishments, not ours.

Do human beings have worth?  They certainly do.  Why?  Because God says they do.  We have worth because God has given it to us.  He has said we bear His image, and thus, our worth is totally from Him.  My sister, Kristin, commented on this song with some very good thoughts about our worth.  Here is what she said:

“There is a big difference between:

I’m worthy, so he died for me.
and
He died for me and gave me my worth.

See, it’s not that we were so wonderful and worthy that Jesus died for us . . . It’s that BECAUSE of the cross we have worth. Jesus sanctifying death makes us “sacred and blameless” in his sight. Obviously we are not blameless on our own, or we would not even need the cross.”

Good words.  Are humans worth God dying for us?  Absolutely NOT!  There is no fathomable way that a stubborn, rebellious, sinful, flawed, created being is worthy of the infinite, marvelous, perfect, Holy, creator of the universe dying for them.  You and me for Jesus is no trade at all!  This is why the gospel is foolishness to the world.  It makes no sense.  Why would God substitute Himself for us?  ??  So, what does that tell us?  It tells us that God dying for us isn’t about our worth.  Something else is going on here.

I understand the intention behind this song.  I understand the desire to help people see they have value in God’s eyes and that He loves them.  However, I am not sure if this song will really help people in the long run, because it still focuses them on their worth.  Most people struggle with trying to earn their own righteousness. We are wired for law.  We don’t understand grace.  I think the more we can show people that their worth is not the issue, the better they will understand it.  They need to see love and grace shown to them when they least deserve it in order to understand.

I know many people who struggle with feeling “unworthy”.  In their hearts, they know they aren’t worth it.  Satan continually reminds them of this true fact. He preaches half the gospel to them on a regular basis.  They need a solid foundation of grace to combat this.  They need to be able to say from their core, “you are right, I’m NOT worthy. . . but He is! And His righteousness is mine.” It is very true that Jesus loved you enough to die for you, but what Jesus did on the cross was about His worth substituted for your lack of worth.

I have a clip where Mark Driscoll explains this very well.  Listen to the song again after you watch the Driscoll clip and see if you agree. As you listen, ask yourself who this song is exalting more . . . me or God?

This song does have some great messages that are very encouraging.  If you are a real follower of Jesus . . .

It’s not hopeless. God can hear you.  God is listening.  You are more than flesh and bones.  You are really something beautiful (because of Jesus). You are not just some wandering soul that He doesn’t see and doesn’t know.

But . . . you are NOT someone worth dying for.  The comforting thing to know is that He did it anyway!

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. jessica smith permalink
    July 3, 2011 9:45 pm

    just enjoy the song

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      July 4, 2011 9:15 am

      Theology matters. Many Christians glean most of their theology from contemporary music and catchy bumper sticker sayings instead of from reading the Bible for themselves. It is very important that we filter bad theology. What we allow in without giving any critical thought to will begin to affect how we think. How we think about God will affect how we live. It all starts with how we think. This is why Paul tells us in Romans 12 to renew our minds.

      Watch This video for a quick look at why theology matters…

  2. Patrick permalink
    July 5, 2011 3:24 am

    I just “heard” this song on an internet “Christian” radio station and it really struck me. I’m not worth dieing for! It’s God’s grace 100%. Thanks for your commentary on this song and heresy which seems to be quite prevalent in CCM. I wish these radio stations would have the discernment to screen the songs they play, if they really are concerned about people’s souls.

  3. July 23, 2011 6:35 pm

    I too heard this song on the radio and was disturbed by the line “worth dying for” and decided to look up the song and double check the lyrics, which brought me to your excellent blog post. Well written. As you say in the above comment, “theology” does matter (I would say “truth” matters.) Interestingly, I had just had a debate on Facebook with a pastor over these very same words, and now see that possibly he was influenced by this song, which was influencing what he was communicating to thousands of people. It does matter. I too referenced Romans 5. Christ died for the ungodly, NOT the worthy. Thank you.

  4. facedown2000 permalink
    July 31, 2011 6:44 pm

    Thanks for posting this. It’s hard to believe more people aren’t noticing the poor theology of this song. I’ve heard it now on Christian radio stations in five different states, and like you, I’m wondering what kind of filters these stations have on their music. It’s made me wonder if Christian stations aren’t entirely like secular stations — simply playing the “top 40” that the record companies tell them to play.

    Here’s hoping I never have to hear this on a Sunday morning. Talk about a worship killer.

  5. Joel permalink
    August 16, 2011 3:51 pm

    Yay!!! I appreciate your biblical input to matter that has made me grove in my spirit. I am taken a back at the people who are defending this song much less tolerating it. GRACE GRACE GRACE is my life. Glory to God that Christ obeyed the father and we are redeemed through this obedience.

  6. gomvc.com permalink
    August 21, 2011 5:09 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. It saved me a lot of time posting on it myself. I was actually appalled at how a Christian could completely miss the concept of grace in writing this song. I love the line from the old song “That I Could Still Go Free” that says ‘unworthy to live, and not fit to kill, when a man on a cross said that I could still go free”.

  7. Bonnie permalink
    August 23, 2011 12:40 pm

    I totally agree! Every time I hear this song I’m like “NO, we aren’t worth dying for, THAT’s why it’s so amazing that He died for us!” And then I change the station. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

  8. September 10, 2011 11:25 am

    Well, if we are NOT worth dying for, then why did He do it? Out of obligation? I think not. If not out of obligation, then out of desire. His desire to redeem us unto Himself is what, from His perspective, made His death worthwhile. I believe that is the point of the song, and I believe the detractors on this site have it exactly backwards.

    And I echo the first comment. Just enjoy the song.

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      September 12, 2011 12:43 pm

      You are certainly welcome to your opinion of the song. You may believe the point of the song is that God thought it was worthwhile to redeem us unto Himself. Perhaps you are right, I don’t know. What I do know is that is clearly not what the lyrics say. The distinction may be very subtle, but it is also very important.

      We all agree that Jesus went to the cross voluntarily because He wanted to redeem us to Himself. This is not the question here. The question here is not whether or not God thought it was worthwhile to redeem us, but WHY. Why did he think redeeming us was worth His death? The song is seeking to link our worth with the REASON Christ went to the cross. This song is all about how valuable we are: “You are more than flesh and bones. You are really something beautiful”, etc. It then links the idea of our value or worth with why Christ went to the cross. This is the problem.

      I agree that Jesus went to the cross to redeem us to Himself, and this was worth His death. What I don’t agree with is that the “WHY” was that WE were so valuable and wonderful and that is was our value that was the cause of Christ going to the cross. It was our sin that was the cause. The WHY was Christ’s value, His capacity to love the unlovable, God’s desire to exult His Son, The Son’s desire to obey the Father out of love, and God’s plan from the dawn of creation.

      You can’t look at the cross and see your worth. You must come to it and see Jesus’.

  9. October 13, 2011 12:06 pm

    Seriously? Yes everybody entitled to their own opinion, but this is not a Biblical scripture we are talking about, it’s a song. Do you know how many people may try to take their lives because they believe they have no value and then hear this song and change their minds? No only by His grace are we saved and not of our works, but don’t ruin the thought that this was the Lord’s choice and apparently the point was that He loved us so much that He did think that we were worth dying for. That puts no value on us because we are not worthy of everlasting life, but with Him dying that gives us a free choice to choose Him or not. The greatest example of Love and I think that’s all the song is talking about, those who feel that they have no hope or nobody to love them, He loved us and died for us and even if there was only one person on this earth that was the worst person, He still would have died for that one person!

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      October 13, 2011 1:48 pm

      Joy,
      Seriously. I’m not sure what else I can say that I haven’t already. Your argument against what I am saying seems to be based on the fact that you like the results of the song: that people will feel better about themselves, have a better self-image, not commit suicide, etc. That may be so. I certainly hope you are right. That would be a good thing. But, that is not the point of this blog.

      It is quite possible for something to have good results and also not be true. For example, many people believe they will go to heaven by being a “good person”. Undoubtedly, this results in many good deeds being done and a society with generally good morals. It has good results. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it ISN’T TRUE. People go to heaven if they repent of their sin and turn to Jesus for life. The results of someone actually doing this are even better. Instead of empty religion they get life changing grace and the Holy Spirit that can actually change their desires, not just their behavior.

      What I propose is that we not tell people something that will help them some (but isn’t true), but instead we actually tell them the truth, which will prove to be much more helpful in the long run. As I attempted to show in the blog, the “Jesus” focused truth is so much better than the “me” focused half-truth. When we take the person’s focus off of themselves and how “worthy” they are and redirect their focus to Jesus and how wonderful He is, we enable a heart of worship and Christ-dependence. Ultimately, the person isn’t really much better off if we leave them with only a better self-image. All we have done is enlarge the heart of man and increased pride (which stands in opposition to the Work of God in their hearts). But, if we show them that it matters not how worthy they are, because Jesus’ worth is their worth, we help them to develop their view of themselves in view of the cross. They can learn to see Jesus’ value as their value. When the devil tells them they are worthless they can confidently respond that, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, they are just as worthwhile as He is. This is what the bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

      “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

      The key difference here is before the cross and after the cross. The song asserts that we are worthwhile before the cross (Jesus’ death proves how worthwhile we were). What I am saying is that it is the other way around. We are worth something in the wake of the cross. Jesus’ death makes us worthwhile NOW; not on our own merits but on Jesus’. My position isn’t leaving those without hope (as you assert). Just the opposite, it is showing that, as a child of God, you’re worth was FOREVER settled at the cross. It isn’t shakable, in doubt, or effected by what others say or think. You are a Prince, a child of the King!

      I am not “ruining the fact that it was the Lord’s choice” and that He did it because He loved us. I agree. What I am saying doesn’t change that at all. He loved us WHILE WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES (Rom 5:10). He loved us in spite of ourselves. He loved the unlovable, because He is Love (not because we deserved it). Don’t you ruin the fact that God loves unconditionally!

  10. Yuriy permalink
    November 28, 2011 10:42 pm

    There seems to be a little play of words in the song which created little misunderstanding between author of this post and authors of the song. Indeed, because we all have sinned, then we are are to die for our sins, but God sent his son Jesus to come to this earth and die for us because of his grace and unconditional love. So, the authors of the song meant the same concept in somewhat different or maybe confusing words. We are not worth dying for, but as an encouragement that authors of the song say that we are worth to God so that He dies for us; He loves us to much that we are worth in His eyes for us to die for. It’s a very thin line and both are true points trying to explain the same concept in different words.

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      January 24, 2012 5:55 pm

      I don’t think the two points are the saying the same thing at all. Both points cannot true because they are in direct contradiction. You say the authors are saying we are worth a lot to God so he died for us. The problem is this is just bad theology. Show me a scripture that says that. Jesus didn’t go to the cross because of how much we were worth to Him. Jesus went to the cross because it was the Father’s will. It was the Father’s will because it brought glory and honor to the Son. The cross was about bringing the most possible glory to God. That’s why it was God’s plan for Jesus to be slain on the cross before the world was even created (Rev 13:8). Our worth doesn’t play into it. It wasn’t that we were worth so much to God that He chose to die for us. It is that His Son was worth so much to Him that He was willing to sacrifice Him so that He might be highly exulted. Do you not see the difference between these to positions? The cross is about Jesus’ worth, not mine.

  11. Josh permalink
    February 27, 2012 10:00 pm

    The other key line in the song is that “you can’t earn it” refering to the face that there is nothing we can or can’t do to earn Jesus dying on the cross for us. But It’s my belief that they are saying it’s not your actions or anything that anyone person may do but because God loves us unconditionally and are God’s children that provides our worth.

    That all being said it is also of my oppinion that we as humans find it really hard to understand non-worldly concepts. God’s being love and loving 100% unconditionally is almost impossible to understand as a human, because we don’t. As much as we long to, have uncoditional love for anyone or thing. It’s like trying to really understand the begining of time where there was nothing except God. I can imagine complete darkness and similar things but my mind can’t fathom there being absolutly nothing.

    So sometimes even if it isn’t completly true we can help people understand and relate to the fact that no matter what we do we can always turn to God and ask for forgivness and he will always forgive us no matter the “severity” of our sin.

    We are not worthy of Jesus paying the ultimate sacrifice out of self worth and in our own right, but we are worthy of him dying for us because He loves us and we are His children and that trumps the fact that we are horrible people. We are worthy by the fact that Jesus died for us, it’s not what we did but what but what He did that gives us Worth.

    Thank-you for making me think about this song though

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      February 27, 2012 10:54 pm

      Josh,
      Thanks for the comment. I think I agree with you. I believe we are saying the same thing. You say, “We are not worthy of Jesus paying the ultimate sacrifice out of self worth and in our own right, but we are worthy of him dying for us because He loves us and we are His children.” I agree with this. But the question here is when does this happen? When do we become his children? The answer is clearly given in John 1:12. It is as a result of our faith in Christ and the work his did on the cross. So what you say is very true, as his children we have worth. But, we did not have that worth prior to the cross, therefore it is not the “why” for Jesus dying for us. I am not trying to say we have no worth now or that we remain worthless. I am just pointing out what should be obvious: that it wasn’t our preexisting worth (prior to the cross) that prompted God to forsake heaven and die on a cross. The cross was indeed about worth, just not ours. As a result we do have infinite worth because we have Jesus’ worth imparted to us. Praise God!

      Additionally, it wasn’t even primary about God’s love for us either. God does love us and that is one of the reasons He came to die, but it was primarily about Jesus being obedient to the Father. For the Father, it was primarily about exalting the Son. That is why this event (the crucifixion) was planned before any human ever existed (Rev 13:8). God doesn’t need us. He is not somehow deficient, needing someone to love or to be loved by someone. He exists in perfect completeness in a perfect love relationship within the three persons of the Trinity. All the recorded events in the history of the universe are about God and his glory. We are supporting characters in the play about God. It is the story of God. The cross was the climax, the crescendo of the story. It is where God is most glorified and victorious. We are here to support that.

      We just need to keep this in perspective. It isn’t that God doesn’t love us. Of course He does. But, that wasn’t the proximate cause of the cross. In fact, our biggest contribution to the “why” of the cross isn’t our worth but our sin.

  12. September 26, 2012 7:36 am

    Either we are witnesses of truth or we are witnesses of a lie. There are no gray areas…in Ephesians 2 Paul takes great effort in emphasizing in grace alone are we saved and only because HE loved us….it is based on no good in US…if we approach God as deserving we are not approaching Him by grace through faith…our confidence in God is based on faith in HIM to be faithful…if we waver into ‘I deserve it’ at any level we are negating grace and our faith is shifted from faith in HIM to faith in our worthiness…Even as sons and daughters given the position of kings and priests…even that is by grace alone…I would say this generation especially dictates honesty on this gospel truth but the fact is, odvioulsy even Paul’s generation needed to hear this reality…Jesus recognized this in the rich young ruler and told him there was none good but God..Our relatonship with God is dependent on our honesty with ourselves…No we don’t approach God begging and cowering…but we do approach Him with humility and thankfulness…respectful and grateful…in faith IN HIS faithfulness and love and already given provision..

  13. October 18, 2012 6:15 am

    When we shoot, we try our dead level best to hit the target, in the center, with tight groups measured in the fractions of an inch. When we brew we try to get as close to the correct mash temperature as possible. When we drive we stay in our lane. When we kick a field goal the ball must pass through the uprights. BUT when we try to understand a perfectly Holy God, we are lazy, and sloppy. How we work our knowledge of God tells us how much, or how little, we love him. And all God’s soldiers said Hooah!

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      October 18, 2012 11:00 am

      Hooah!

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      October 18, 2012 11:36 am

      May I just add, as a military veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, that I love your artwork! Keep up the work honoring the troops! God bless.
      Jake

  14. September 16, 2015 2:10 pm

    Wow.. I know this is old but it really resinates with my thoughts towards a very similar song. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/UPiC6Xcfaz0 and the message is almost identical.

    I was tagged in this song a few days ago and it’s been driving me nuts. I am very appreciative for this post ! Thnx

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