Everyone longs to be accepted and to find a place of belonging. Most of our lives are spent trying to gain the approval of others, with our desire to be accepted so great that we’re often willing to do whatever it takes to belong. In our pursuit of acceptance our actions often become governed by fear, too afraid to say the wrong thing or to step out of the cultural norm, in fear of no longer being accepted if we do.
We’ve actually become so afraid of not being accepted that we’ve created a social media platform where we can post only what we think will make others think good of us, whilst hiding the imperfections of our real selves.
Whilst our society broadens the behaviours in which it considers acceptable, making it seemingly easier for us to accept others, the challenge to accept ourselves still remains. Growing up in a world that bases its acceptance on behaviour and performance, whilst knowing our own hidden imperfections, it becomes impossible to accept ourselves all of the time. Although others might still accept us, whilst we struggle to accept our own selves, we still live in the fear that the acceptance of others will one day cease.
Thankfully Jesus never had this problem. He knew who he was, the very Son of God and it didn’t matter what other people thought, for there wasn’t anything they could say or do that would take away his identity as God’s son. Neither was there anything He could do that would disqualify Him from being a son, for his obedience didn’t define who He was, instead it revealed who He was.
In Luke chapter 15 we find one of the most amazing pieces of scripture, when it comes to knowing our place in God’s Kingdom. Jesus is journeying and teaching on His way to Jerusalem, when we’re told that even the worst of sinners were being drawn near to Him, much to the disapproval of the religious leaders. Knowing their disapproval, Jesus responded by sharing with them three amazing parables; the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son.
In each of these parables Jesus reveals the incredible love and acceptance God has for us. Knowing that for something to be lost it has to have first belonged, Jesus used these parables to show them that even the worst of sinners belong in God’s family. Jesus’ actions reveal that God’s acceptance of us has never been based on performance or behaviour. Instead it came before the very foundation of the world, when He predestined us to be created in His own image, as His very own sons and daughters.
Like the shepherd who left the ninety nine alone in the wilderness in order to go looking for the one, so it is with God and us. He’s willing to put everything on the line, even for the individual who’s wandered off. Then when He finds us caught up in our sin He doesn’t scold us or give us ‘what we deserve’, instead He rejoices over us and celebrates our return.
Even though we might feel unworthy and undeserving of being accepted, Jesus went to great lengths to show us our value and His acceptance of us. With the value of something always determined by the price someone else is willing to pay for it, whilst on the cross Jesus showed us our infinite value in God’s eyes. Like the lost coin who’s value never changed despite having been lost, our own individual value and God’s desire to find us has also never changed.
Regardless of what you might think of yourself or what others might think and say about you, if that leads to you feeling unworthy of being accepted in God’s Kingdom, then know that they’re simply just lies and there is no truth in those thoughts or opinions. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, know that you are always accepted in God’s family just as you are, not based on performance or behaviour, but as his very own son or daughter in whom He is so proud of and one who brings Him great joy.