Accepted And Accepting

From what I have seen, a great need among us humans is the need to be accepted. Translate that loved, valued, understood, noticed, heard, appreciated, etc. For now, let’s use the word accepted.

For many years of my life, I struggled desperately with wanting to be accepted.  I wanted to be able to accept myself, and I wanted others to accept me.  I was extremely unhappy with myself, and quite self condemning.  It was crippling, it held me back, and at times, it felt consuming.  I suppose that I am still predisposed to this sentiment, though God has done an incredible work in me.

I have noticed from my life, and from the lives of others, that the person who is desperate to be accepted will do “whatever it takes” to be accepted.  They will commit crimes, they will give themselves away to others in damaging relationships, they will demean others in order to gain approval, they will anesthetize themselves; the list goes on.  Some will even demand that you accept them no matter what they do, and will continue to push the boundaries to make you prove that you accept them.

The Christian has a great advantage that isn’t always understood or received, but yet remains.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus…

“…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:4-6

The Christian who is desperate to be accepted by people they can see, will run past the God they can’t see.  They will generally relate to life on the visible plane.  Though there is sufficient faith for salvation, it has stopped there, and satisfaction and purpose is sought from that which is tangible.

They overlook the very truth that can liberate them.

The work of God’s Spirit in directing the Believer away from what is seen, and on to that which is unseen, is the critical experience that needs to transpire.

We worry about people’s opinions of us, when the Highest Opinion is the one that really matters. When I understand and experience the fact that the Highest Opinion accepts me because I am in Christ, I can rest.

God tells us that he has made us acceptable unto Himself, as we are forgiven and united with Christ through faith.  God really does love me and accept me.  As I grow in this truth, I am free to accept others, even though they may be acting out in some of the aforementioned manners.  I am free from my desperate need for approval, because I am walking in the acceptance of God, because of what Christ has done, and continues to do in me.  I can increasingly not worry about what others think, about where I should be in life, about the failures I have made and do make.

The path of this truth becoming a liberating reality can be difficult.  I speak from personal experience, and from 20 years of pastoral observation.  How it happens, how long it takes, etc., is different with everyone, but I do know this:  The person that experiences the liberating acceptance of God is the one who will not let go of God, and continues to pursue God in faith, and seeks to “live by faith and not by sight.”

The person who struggles with acceptance is in pain, and can believe that pain in and of itself is reason enough to not try to push forward in faith.  “Can’t you see that I am hurting”, they ask. “How can I push forward in faith when I feel so bad”?

I have said and felt those same things, but my question to them is this: “How can you NOT push forward towards faith and the promises of God?”  It is God who heals, but we must pursue Him will ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, even though we might be in debilitating emotional and mental anguish.

The distance from feelings to faith can indeed seem like an endless journey, but the Truth is still there for us to apprehend, and it is the best rewarded effort that one can put forth.

C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (The Problem of Pain, 1940).

4 replies
  1. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Bill – you’ve hit a nerve. Knowing what you wrote to be true, I attempt to show the love and acceptance of God to those in the church (and, hopefully those not in the church). Loving relationship is the power to healing broken self- image.

    Reply
  2. Miles DeBenedictis
    Miles DeBenedictis says:

    Great reminder…

    In a culture such as ours, that narcissistically values the opinions of others, it is hard to mentally distance ourselves from the desire for their recognition and affirmation. I read an article 6 or 8 months ago on the depression that young teen girls experience as a result of not receiving many comments and “likes” via their posts on Facebook. Their popularity and self-worth is directly connected to the amount of feedback they receive in the social network. The same thing can happen in a venue such as this. We can easily question whether what we are doing has value based on whether or not people interact via comments and give their feedback. Furthermore, the kind of feedback we receive has import too.

    Tim is right, you have hit a nerve. It can be discouraging to labor all week, only to pour out your soul before the church on a Sunday morning, and receive little to no interaction on what has been preached. In such situations I have to regularly remind myself that my service is first and foremost for the Lord and His glory. Thank God, we are accepted in the beloved.

    Reply
  3. George Lim
    George Lim says:

    Wow this article spoke to me in so many ways, thanks.

    Miles – it’s funny you mention that because I noticed something else about people having no interaction about what is preached (or any other type of ministering) on Sunday. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach on Sunday and there were more than a few people who made a statement similar to “I really liked your message or was blessed by it, but hopefully that doesn’t take any of your rewards or puff you up by telling you that…again not exact words but implied words”.

    I also had another lady tell me she really loves the worship on Sunday but was afraid to compliment the worship team because she also did want to “puff them up.”

    I guess my question is: I wonder how much people DON’T interact with “ministers” because the line between “puffing up” and “encouraging” seems to be really blurred. Also, although I know it’s talked about, how much interaction do we lose because the congregation sees the pastors/leaders as spiritual giants and think they don’t need to hear words of encouragement?

    Reply
  4. Buzz Krishnan
    Buzz Krishnan says:

    Thanks for posting Bill. You did indeed hit a nerve.
    Miles, amen that our acceptance is before God and not men!
    I wallowed in depression for two years because I would not believe that my acceptance was in Christ, and in the gospel, and not in the praise of men. And it’s encouraging when I find myself tempted to return, that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Because His acceptance of me is the same always. And remembering that when I have experienced His acceptance of me the most, I still see in a mirror dimly.
    It’s also a good reminder for me to show the same acceptance to others.

    Reply

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