Acceptance

Dealing with Insecurities (Part III)

 

Many talk about peer pressure in the teenage years, but in truth, peer pressure continues to follow people long into adulthood. Peer pressure plays on the need to feel secure in our relationships and to be accepted. The need to feel secure in our relationships leads us to expect others to be like us, or we feel the pressure to be like others. …

The Truth About Conformity (Part III)

Christians can feel pressured to conform to those around them in order to be accepted. Sometimes, new converts feel compelled to be like their mentor to prove their spiritual growth. Some mentors enjoy having protege’s expecting them to imitate their life to show evidence of spiritual growth. However, when we look at the scriptures, we find that God is not looking for cookie cutter Christianity, and He certainly does not want people to be followers of each other.

The Blessing of Being Accepted in Christ (Part II)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10

The blessing of salvation and our new relationship with Christ is that we didn’t do anything to earn it. God initiated this relationship and we just responded to His loving kindness towards us. It wasn’t our idea. We didn’t just decide one day that it’s a good day or a good age to accept the Lord into our lives. He is the one who placed the conviction in our hearts that we are sinners in need of forgiveness. Then as newborn babes, He put a hunger in our hearts to desire Him and grow in Him!

Paul reminds us that salvation is a gift of God. We have nothing to boast about or to become prideful about. We can’t look down upon others for not being saved. If it wasn’t for the Lord and His rich mercies, we would still be in sin and would be living in guilt and shame that was piled upon us from years past. Praise be to God and the Lord Jesus Christ whose rich mercy and grace freed us from sin and brought us to the Kingdom of God! We live this life in humility knowing that we are totally and utterly dependent on the Lord on daily basis!

The beauty and the blessing of being accepted by the Lord is that He is the one who started the good work in our lives and He will complete it! He didn’t leave us in charge of our spiritual lives. We continue to only respond and partner with Him in this journey called life. He has a plan for the work that He has for us before the creation of the world! This is a relief from striving or trying to figure out what we need to do!

Many believers including myself have struggled to figure out what good works we are supposed to do. How should we impact the Kingdom!? We want to be good stewards of our time, treasure, temple, and talents. The problem is that those kinds of questions sometimes lead us to strive We try to figure out with our minds how to please God and achieve His objectives. Sometimes, we come up with creative ways to do the work of the Kingdom, and at other times, we just join a group and try to do something to ensure we are serving and ministering. All along we may not be sure if the Lord is doing directing all the “good works” or if it is our restlessness that makes us just want to do something.

The above scripture reminds us that God has already prepared the good works that He has for us. He actually planned them long before we were born or accepted Jesus into our lives! The good works that He has for us are not separated from the good work that He does in our lives. They are the outworking and the byproduct of a life lived out under His Lordship and obedience. Just as God has planned for us to be transformed into the image of His son, He also has a plan how He will use us in the Kingdom to reveal that image to others. Isn’t that awesome!? We can’t transform ourselves into the image of Jesus. We only respond to His promptings and surrender our will, so He can develop and shape us in Jesus’ image. Similarly, we can’t conjure up good works for God. We don’t see Godly Biblical characters coming up with ideas to keep themselves busy in doing good works. The Lord directed them to it, and He will direct us to it.

In the meantime, we do the best we can with all the other responsibilities we have before us. We get to fellowship with the Lord, remain in His love, Listen to His voice, obey His word, and be available to what He asks us to do. We love our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers on our path. The above scripture tells us that we will walk in the good works that He has for us. In the course of daily life, we will come upon those people and situations that require our attention.

Our challenge is to believe that our good works for God will not always happen in the context of ministry. It is not a job, a role, or a task that needs to be done. It is a relationship with the almighty God who instructs and directs us to do certain things at certain times. When we don’t have a specific task to do, we can rest assured that God still loves us and we can be secure in His love not our works for Him.

 

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

 

The Blessing of Being Accepted in Christ (Part I)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

Paul began the letter to the Ephesians by explaining our redeemed relationship with Christ. He explained that the Lord has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ and that He chose us before the foundation of the world! God’s desire for His people is to be in fellowship with Him and to live in His acceptance!

God created Adam and Eve perfectly to live and walk with Him! Because of the sin that they committed, Adam & Eve lost their relationship with a holy God and sin brought blame and shame into the world. By the time, it reached the next generation, murder had already entered the human experience through Cain (see Genesis 4:3-7).

After Adam and Eve, the blame and shame had grown to such a degree that Cain could not handle Able’s success and acceptance by God. Cain did not offer what the Lord had asked of him but instead of trying to make it right with the Lord, he became jealous of his brother and envied his acceptance. Consequently, Cain killed his own brother because he did not feel accepted by the Lord. His lack of acceptance had nothing to do with his brother. It was easier to push the blame on his brother rather than dealing with his lack of security before God and the shame and inferiority he felt!

Because we were all born in sin and shaped in iniquity, every person carries a sense of inferiority in them, which they try to compensate through various means such as performance, victim mentality, aggression, control, conformity, etc.  Unfortunately, the world’s voices including many parents’s voices is the voice of blame and shame, so people grow up not ever feeling good enough. There is nothing we can do to feel good enough and holy enough. The good news is that God never desires for people to remain in a state of sin, blame, and shame. Jesus, the holy Son of God,  was the only one who could bridge the gap and bring us back into the right standing with God and remove our shame, blame, and the guilt of sin.

As a matter of fact, Jesus made our relationship with God better than what Adam and Eve experienced! Adam and Eve were God’s creation but God did not call them son and daughter. Jesus came to open the door for a different kind of relationship. Jesus brought us to the Lord as adopted children, sons and daughters, inheriting all the spiritual blessings through Jesus’ work on the cross! Thank you Jesus!

In the original relationship, God gave Adam and Eve the dominion to subdue the earth. In the new relationship, we have the keys to the Kingdom of heaven (See Matthew 16:10) Jesus gave us authority over all powers and told His disciples that whatever they bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever they lose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Praise the Lord!

In the new relationship, we get to explore God’s majesty, goodness, kindness, mercies, and grace and grow up to become more like His Son Jesus. This is God’s pleasure to reveal Himself to us and to allow us to be partakers of His divine nature. The more we become like Him, the more the lost world will see God on the earth and His glory and moral attributes will be revealed through His children! All glory to His name!

 

Image by Rotaru Florin from Pixabay