“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. John 1:46
I grew up in a small community in rural South Carolina. We can’t even call it a town. There is no government, no form of emergency services, and no form of commerce except the few convenience stores scattered throughout. There is no city water flowing underground. There are no fire hydrants or even street corners. It is all family-owned land connected to each other. They call it heirs property – land passed down from one generation to the next. We buy our own street lights, which are far and few between. We dig our own wells for water. We still don’t have reliable internet access. We are off the grid for sure. Yet, this rural girl found her way to your computer screen.
John 1:45-51 tells the story of another person from another place off the grid. In the text, Philip was talking to Nathanael about Jesus from Nazareth. Nathanael questioned Jesus’ identity as the Messiah because of his place of origin. He was not from mighty Jerusalem. He was from a small insignificant place, so Nathanael was quick to dismiss him. Philip pressed the issue and Nathanael came to meet this man. It was only after Jesus proved himself that Nathanael believed him to be the Messiah. In other words, Jesus had to earn his street cred.
At some point in all our lives, we have had to prove ourselves, to overcome some aspect of our identity that caused people to dismiss or mistreat us. Race, gender, income, hometown, and even things like hair color have all been used to dismiss people. People have been denied rights because of insignificant things and because of significant parts of their identity. Being human is hard but we make it harder when we divide ourselves based on things that really don’t matter. Last time I checked, we all are born, bleed red, and die.
The text reminds us that our value comes from God, not our hometown or other identifying characteristics. God created us to be valuable and that settles it. What we do with that value is up to us. We can spend time trying to earn others’ respect, to earn our street cred, or we can spend time living the life that God created us to live. The choice is always ours.
Prompt for Thought: When have others dismissed you? When have you dismissed others? Take it to God in prayer.
Prayer for the Journey: God, thank you for creating us. Help us to remember that when you did, you said that we were good. When we start to question ourselves, our value, and our worth, please remind us who and whose we are. We are your creation. We belong to you. Correct us in the times when we shrink because others dismiss us. Correct us in times when we cause others to shrink because we dismiss them. Please love us no matter what. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.