Wanting to be Accepted?
I don’t know what your childhood was like growing up, but it can be tough! All children want is to be accepted. They want nothing but to be loved! Yet, too often they don’t find it so, and it can lead to lifelong issues. Even as adults, we often are still in a desperate search for acceptance from others! Yes, at times our hearts are broken and we cry within, and sometimes, without. Today, I want to tell you about someone who does care about you, and has done something about it too! So listen carefully. Yes, I myself faced much rejection; as a child in particular. It was during my early adult days that I found someone who was not a fair-weather friend! I found someone who actually did care and proved it with their actions! So then, let us find out to whom we do matter so much!
Sadly, this world is filled with division and hate! We have political animosity, gangs warring against one another, tribal fighting, colour divisions, “in crowds” versus the outcasts, and a plethora of other divisions! Then, to add insult to injury, we have those that seem to be rejected by most everybody! People that are picked on. These people may feel like they have a literal label on them, that says, “Hate me!” Regrettably, many in this world receive the brunt end of hate, violence, abuse, rejection, slander, and all such debasing things!
Yet, there is someone who is markedly unique in comparison! Someone who loves everyone, no matter what! Yes, you may have guessed, the God of the Bible! Oh, some may argue that if God loved all people, that He should have done something to stop all this heinous stuff from happening in the world! Truth is, He has done something! So let me explain myself.
Someone Loves You!
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I too faced rejection. In fact, at times it felt as is if almost the whole world had it out for me! One feels as if they have no value. As if oneself can never be good enough for anyone! It seems as if one is always singled out to receive someone’s snide remarks. Yet, something changed for me. I found that God was not “out to get me,” but out to befriend me!
Remember the prodigal son? This son thought he didn’t need his father. He must have thought life at home was dull! This boy wanted to spice life up a little! So, out he went with his pockets loaded down with money. This was going to be fun! Finally he was free to do just as he pleased! Certainly, this will have involved a lot of partying and everything that goes with it. In the final analysis, he ran out of all means to exist, never mind the means to party! So he finds himself feeding – pigs. This son actually found himself wanting to eat the pigs food! That is how bad his situation had gotten! Coming to his senses, he said to himself, I’m going home. Come what may, it surely has got to be better than this! He reasoned, how he would confess his sins to his dad, and concluded that he would simply ask to be a servant – a hired hand. Indeed, through the years he will have seen how his father even provided for his workers, and he knew it was much better than the situation he had gotten himself into!
As this wayward son trudged home, mile after mile, he will have had a great deal of time to ponder over just exactly how he would word it all. A lot of things will have been going through his mind, of what he had done, where he ended up, and now…going home. I don’t think he will have held his head very high!
No, he didn’t deserve to have the sympathy of his father, after his rebellious living! No, he deserved a good old-fashioned scolding! He deserved the wrath of his father to come down full force on him! I mean, he had wasted, all his inheritance! Now what did he have left? Nothing, absolutely nothing! He didn’t even have shoes on his feet, and his tattered clothing smelled like pigs! Then too, when was the last time he had bathed? Oh, yuck, how he must have stunk! Surely his dad would recoil at such an awful looking…smelling…son!
Yet, to the absolute contrast, the father ran out to meet his son and…yes…embraced him! Is this really the way we expect God to receive us? Is it?
Noteworthily, the record is absolutely silent, with respect to the prodigal’s father scolding him! There was no, “I told you so!” In fact, a grand feast was put in order to welcome the son home, whom he loved so dearly! Yes, what we do witness is the lavishing of grace upon the son! No, we do not hear, “But…if you ever do anything like this again…!” Nope, we have nothing but a warm-hearted reception! We have the giving of the “best robe…a ring…, and shoes.” (Luke 15:22)
Was Dead but Lives!
Interestingly, we read, “Let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:23-24) So we read that, “There is…joy in heaven over one sinner” who gets saved! (Luke 15:7)
In truth, all of humanity was found, “Dead in the trespassed and sins in which we…walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all…lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath.” At this point comes a major statement, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses.” (Ephesians 2:1-5) That needs to arrest our full attention! In truth, while we were still conducting ourselves in rebellious living, like the prodigal, God loved us! He desires to lavish His “great love” upon us! No! No! No! A thousand times no! God does not desire to explode upon us in great wrath and indignation! Much rather, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only [uniquely born] Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Oh, hear the heart of God! “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” (Matthew 23:37) No, God is not interested in running you down for all your shortcomings! Truth be told, He doesn’t even expect you to “turn from your sin” in order to come to Him for salvation! No, He simply invites us to “come as you are.” Hear the great invitation! “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Once more, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Honestly, we can’t be good enough! We need to come “home,” still dressed in robes tattered and torn and smelling of sin! Oh, we read that the father said, “Bring quickly the best robe”! (Luke 15:22) Yes! “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (Zechariah 3:4) Again, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10)
With a certainty, it is Jesus who redeems us from beings “slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:17) Yes, it is Jesus who buys us by His precious blood out of the slave-market of sin! It is Jesus who sets us free! Oh, listen! “The gospel [good news!]…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Most marvellously, Jesus didn’t just die for some of our sins, but all of them, right from the beginning of our lives to the very end! Let us read, “Having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (Colossians 2:13)
No, we can’t ever do anything to work for our salvation, not before or after, becoming Christians! For we read, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace [God’s undeserved favor] you have been saved…And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9) Therefore we read, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) Indeed, Jesus, who cannot lie, said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” (John 10:28)
What About You?
Have you “come” to Jesus? Has God removed your “filthy rags” and clothed you with the “garments of salvation” – the spotless garments of our Lord’s righteousness? Oh, come as you are to God’s wondrous throne of grace, and let Him clothe you with the garments of salvation! He too, wants to run out to meet you and embrace you and celebrate your homecoming!
No, it doesn’t matter how you have lived. It matters not what others have evaluated you as! God loves you and wants to forgive you and embrace you! He is most certainly is not out to point fingers at you and ridicule you! No, God does not require your great performance for salvation. Why? Jesus already performed on the cross all that was necessary to save you! Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished”! (John 19:30) The work for your salvation is complete. All you need, is to receive “the free gift of eternal life”! (Romans 6:23) Why not place your confidence, right now, in the fully satisfactory work of Jesus Christ for your salvation? Listen to God’s promise! “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Why not know that you are saved right now?
Victor J Reimer
Photo credit: “sad” by Joe Penna
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.