My Favorite Word in the Bible

My Favorite Word in the Bible

Deem” is a word that has fallen out of general use, but I happen to  like the word.  It’s not my favorite word, but I like it.  To “deem” something is to make a judgment on it: to regard it as having or lacking a particular value.  I do this “deem” thing all the time: I deem some things to be valuable, and some things I deem to be worthless or a waste of time.  I’m constantly deeming things, and so is God.

The Bible says that God deems me to be out of place in His presence.  In more places that I care to list, the Bible says that God’s holiness simply does not mix with my rebelliousness.  And I’m in good company.  Moses was told to remove his shoes on God’s holy ground (Ex. 3:5), and Isaiah felt “undone” in the presence of God (Is. 6:5).  Jesus describes it like a wedding guest who is severely under-dressed (Matt 22:11-12) and is thrown out.  It’s that out-of-place feeling you get when you accidentally walk into the wrong restroom and immediately realize “I don’t belong here.”  Compared to a holy God, we are deemed unworthy, unholy and completely under-dressed.

More than the word “deem,” however, I like the word “re-deem.”  Years ago when my Mom bought groceries or gas, she received trading stamps.  They had no cash value, but if you saved enough of them you could go to a Redemption Center and redeem them for a tennis racket or some silverware.  You could have taken those stamps to a thousand establishments, and they would have been deemed worthless at every store.  But there was one store that would re-deem the worthless stamps as having value.  This is my notion of the word “redeem:” you exchange something deemed worthless to someone who re-deems it to have great value.

That’s why my favorite word in the Bible is “re-deem.”  I was deemed unworthy, unholy and under-dressed, but have been re-deemed (Rom. 4:6) as righteous by Jesus Christ!  Isaiah declares God to have “clothed me with garments of salvation . . . wrapped me with a robe of righteousness” (Is 61:10).  That “out-of-place” sensation has given way to the feeling of “I belong; I am home.”  Our confidence to worship God is not based on our own goodness, or even on the fact that we are made in the image of God.  Though once deemed unacceptable, Jesus has re-deemed us to be holy, worthy to enter God’s presence.  Christians are able to worship Jesus, only because of Jesus.

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