Last week marked the release of Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage. The first thing people say to me is, “Congratulations!” Then this question often follows: “How’s it selling?” My answer to that is, “I don’t really know and I don’t want to.”
Basically, I’ve tried to keep myself in the dark and I wish it could stay that way. There’s a reason for that. I’m tempted to see success the same way the world does: by the numbers. For me, it’s the number of books that have sold, the Amazon rankings, or the positive reviews. For you, it might be something else — the number of likes you get on Facebook or Instagram, your performance review at work, your child’s report card, the number on the scale, or how many minutes it takes for a certain person to text you back.
The various measures of our value are endless and the payoff is never enough. We need constant validation — more sales, more likes, higher reviews, more achievement, a better body, more acceptance. And there’s a word for that: idolatry.
As Tim Keller puts it: “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’” Keller also says, “If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope, and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts.”
To all of us believers whose hearts have been broken again and again by idols that can never deliver, we need not feel ashamed or hopeless. God is every ready to pardon us and remind us that we posses the truest, purest, most unassailable identity: We are “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6, NKJV).
“Accepted.” It’s not just an adjective that describes us. It’s who we are and that’s our identity whether any books are sold, we get no likes, our boss despises us, we under-perform, we’re overweight, and/or we’re excluded by those whose approval we crave.
An inestimable price was paid to purchase our acceptance, and it was the price paid by the Son of God on the cross. For our sake, He made Himself the absolute last, with His only crown being one that was made of thorns (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God will never leave His chosen ones brokenhearted with rejection. He cannot reject us. We have already been bought with the blood of Christ. There is no buyer’s remorse. He will not seek a refund — not after all Jesus went through to secure our adoption into the family of God.
Let the numbers be what they will. Numbers can never measure up to infinity. We are loved, we are loved, we are loved; and because of the cross, nothing can ever change that.
Check out my new book, “Confessions of a Happily Married Man.” And if you’d like to receive a bi-monthly, spam free email about finding God in the ordinary of your everyday life, you can sign up here.