Colossians 3:1, 3
IT HAPPENED TO ME LAST WEEK. Isaac Watts did it again. One of his best hymns (he wrote over six hundred!) lingered in my head for more than an hour before I formed the words with my mouth. I suddenly listened to what Watts wrote over two centuries ago:
Alas! and did my Savior bleed? / And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head / For such a worm as I?
I frowned as that last line faded away. A “worm”? Does God see people as “worms”? When Christ died, did He “devote that sacred head” for worms? Now obviously, Watts wanted to portray a vivid illustration of sinful mankind—lost, undeserving, spiritually worthless, wicked within. Dipping his brush in Job 25 and Isaiah 41, Watts painted such a picture, using the very term Scripture uses—worm. He was biblical and therefore justified in his choice of terms for the text. Frankly, we were worm-like when our righteous God found us. We were lowly, wandering, dirty, unattractive, grubby creatures.
But I fear that this “worm theology” creates enormous problems.
It wears many faces—all sad. It crawls out from between the mattress and the springs in the morning saying, “I’m nothing. I’m a worm. I can’t do it. I must annihilate self-respect . . . crucify all motivation and ambition . . . and if any good accidentally seeps out, I must quickly hide it or categorically deny I had anything to do with it. I’m a worm. Good for nothing except crawling slowly and being stepped on.”
But there is another perspective. We are not worms destined to crawl in the dirt of shame; rather, in Christ, we are in an exalted place:
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. . . . For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
COLOSSIANS 3:1, 3
We may have been like worms before Christ found us, but now that we belong to Him, we live in an exalted place! Now that’s a perspective worth meditating on today.
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