In my previous post, I shared the definition of “religion” incorporated by Ayn Rand and others. In particular, the Capital Magazine article defines “religion” this way:
Under a religious (i.e. altruistic) morality, we are obligated to satisfy these needs for those unwilling or unable to do so themselves.
The more subtle component of the definition is that religion requires us to live up to a standard. The standard is certainly different from it’s opposing capitalist standard. But both standards have this in common: your life is worth something if you uphold the standard; if you don’t meet the standard, you’re not living the way you should and your worth is diminished.
In both cases, our worth is determined by our purpose. If the purpose of a watch is to tell time, then we won’t define its worth by how well it pounds nails. While the Objectivist may conclude that we are valuable because we produce to sustain and enhance our own life, the religionist may determine our worth by how much we give to others. In either case, our worth depends on how well we meet the standard.
The Gospel offers a third way. To be sure, God has communicated a standard. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know that we fall short. In fact, Jesus clarified that the standard is far higher than we thought. We are more sinful and lost than we ever dared believe. But the good news is that, in Jesus Christ, we are more accepted, validated, and loved than we ever dared hope to be. The standard, though higher than we can imagine, has been met, so we can be confident. Our worth is secure. But, we didn’t accomplish it, individually or corporately. God through Jesus Christ did it all. Knowing this causes us to view ourselves in the appropriate context, and others with a certain bond. We’re all in the same boat. The Ultimate Standard has been met; we’re all entirely deficient, and yet highly esteemed by the God whose opinion matters most.