Today I was reading in The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper and I ran across the paragraph below. This paragraph really seems to be just a side thought in Piper’s argument, but nonetheless, it caught my attention. Read it for yourself:
It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth, since God was willing to pay such a high price to get me. The biblical perspective is that the cross is a witness to the infinite worth of God’s glory, and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride. What should shock us is that we have brought such contempt upon the worth of God that the very death of his Son is required to vindicate that worth. The cross stands in witness to the infinite worth of God and the infinite outrage of sin.
Piper’s point is that we shouldn’t use the cross as one more way to boost our self-esteem, but to understand the cross as a testimony to how bad we truly are and how much we have disgraced the holiness of our Creator (and my words are an understatement).
I believe that the idea that Piper is speaking against in the paragraph above is actually quite common among Christians today. I immediately think of the popular Christian song “Someone Worth Dying For” by Mikeschair, which most likely represents how a lot of Christians today think.
Now, obviously a balance must be struck with the fact that humans do have inherent value as being God’s creation (and with that, having been created in His image) and surely God cherishes and cares for His children. Piper obviously recognizes this (see an article he wrote entitled, “Reflections on the Concept of Self-Worth”). But Piper’s point in saying this is that we shouldn’t see the cross and a testimony to how amazing we are, so amazing that God is obligated to redeem us, but as a testimony to the intensity of God’s righteousness and how unreachable our holy God is outside of the atoning work of Jesus Christ.