Recently, my 4-year-old son was explaining to me what he wanted to be when he grew up: a doctor. I’ve heard him voice other choices—astronaut or artist or racecar driver. However, he has never mentioned either of my professions—pastor or writer. So, somewhat cautiously, I asked, “Would you ever think about being a pastor?”

“No,” he replied. “I don’t like pastors.”

I know my son didn’t intend his remark to be an assault on my identity. Many messages we receive from our culture, however, can do precisely that.

If we struggle with self-value, Paul’s words might send us reeling. A mystery, Paul explains, has been “kept secret for centuries and generations past,” but has now erupted into the open (Colossians 1:26). And this revelation is wild, scandalous: the very presence of the risen Jesus resides within every person who has received God’s mercy.

Salvation, then, is not merely a judicial act by which God determines whether or not we are forgiven; salvation is also the act of God’s re-creation. He remakes us to be what we were intended to be all along (2 Corinthians 5:17). He saves us from sin, saves us from ourselves. Jesus makes us new by giving us His full self.

And this redemptive move has mammoth implications. God restores our true identity, and He places us in the most improbable position where we literally share in “Christ’s mighty power” (Colossians 1:29).

There is no place for self-loathing or self-hatred in this reality. There is no place to listen to the lies that say we are unlovely or unwanted or despicable. As C. S. Lewis said, “What we can understand, if the Christian doctrine is true, is that our own composite existence is not the sheer anomaly it might seem to be, but a faint image of the Divine Incarnation itself.”