Today I’m starting a new series of posts on How God Sees Us, which is often different to the way we see ourselves. However God being the God of all truth, is more accurate in his assessment of us, than we are of ourselves. He knows what he has achieved for us through Christ and wants us to walk in his truth.
First we are going to be looking at our acceptance in Christ. I’m greatly indebted to Neil Anderson for his thoughts on this subject and in particular his book, Living Free in Christ.
Acceptance means ‘to regard with favour,’ a ‘favourable reception’, ‘welcome’. Acceptance is the opposite of rejection.
It’s not wrong to want acceptance. It is a God-given need in our lives. We see it clearly in children who long for acceptance and approval from their caregivers. This is why children want their parents to attend their sporting events, their musical recitals or their dance performance. They are looking for acceptance and for approval. Human parents aren’t perfect and our need for acceptance is so great that it easily disappears when we experience any kind of rejection or criticism. And rejection is painful which is why it is important to understand God’s acceptance of us.
Even those who had loving families, and received lots of unconditional love and acceptance, find it’s never enough. The most popular kids are school, famous film stars, sporting heroes are all still wanting and looking for acceptance. We never outgrow our need for acceptance. This is why peer pressure is persuasive. People want acceptance so much, they will sacrifice even their own standards to get it.
So, it’s important to receive God’s unconditional love and acceptance. Only God can give us the acceptance we crave. And we don’t have to perform or keep up appearances or walk around on egg shells to gain it. We also can’t lose it, because God will never reject or criticise us. God may correct us but he doesn’t condemn us. In Romans 15:7 we read: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” We are to accept others like Christ has accepted us.
We don’t have to feel pressured or intimidated by others, we don’t have to compare or compete with others, we don’t have to be a puppet or a pushover. Rather we can be secure in the knowledge that we are loved and accepted by God and we can reach out to others without being manipulative or forcibly try to gain their approval. Some more verses on God’s acceptance:
“The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them” (Romans 14:3). God has accepted us all, regardless of what we eat, our backgrounds, our customs, our traditions, our appearance. Therefore, we are to accept others.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). He has accepted us in the Beloved. Accepted in Jesus, because of all he achieved on the cross, not for what we have achieved.
The place in the Bible where I see God’s love and acceptance most vividly displayed, apart from the Cross, is during the exile. God allowed his people to be removed from the land he had given them because of their appalling behaviour. And it really was appalling. They were into idolatry, immorality, oppression of the poor – lots of really bad stuff. For seventy years God sent them to live in Babylon, but he never gave up on them.
God had Jeremiah write to the exiles: “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you’” (Jeremiah 29:10).
God does not reject his people, not even when they give him every reason to do so. His plans for Israel were good plans to prosper and bless them. He has good plans for us too. We don’t have to work to earn God’s favour. We already have it. Likewise we don’t work for his love and acceptance, it is ours when we come to faith. And his promise is to never to leave us or forsake us.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
This is how the Amplified Bible puts this verse: “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”
That’s quite a promise.
The devil will tell us all sorts of lies, that we are unlovable, unacceptable or unworthy of God’s attention. But it’s up to us to believe the truth of God’s word and renounce the lies of the devil. We have a choice as to what we believe and while it’s might be difficult to change our thinking habits, with God all things are possible.