The acceptance of fellow Christians
One monsoon evening, I was sitting with some dear brothers from our church, talking and praying to God. As I sat amidst the group, I felt quite happy that I was part of a people who had the same beliefs as I did; I was glad about the recognition I felt from respected, mature men who followed God. What a good feeling it was to be on good terms with Godly men who lived by faith!
One older brother, in particular, affected me. This man was a faithful teacher of the Bible and was an inspiration to many. He was smiling at me as an elder brother would. How reassuring! Does it not feel great to have good friends sit with you, talk and affirm you? Of course, it does, especially if you just had a bad day at work. These brothers did not yet know about the sinful choices I had made. But this reception was a good change for my emotions – I felt so much better!
No disagreements, no tensions. I would not want to disturb this Christian unity and tranquillity in any way!
The acceptance of friends
Today, a colleague walked up to my seat and greeted me. As we had a pleasant talk about what’s happening in our lives, I appreciated the fact that he asked me to join him and other friends for lunch, yet again. I could not go, but I was so happy that they all wanted me there with them. I didn’t realise it then, but I loved it when I could be an important part of a group of friends who will know that I cared for them and life could be so much fun with me around – and they realise it!
Does it not feel great to have such approval?
The acceptance of relatives
Earlier this month my parents, my wife Sheetal’s parents and her grandparents met with us. It was lovely to have them all together, catch up on life, play with my son Abhay, go out and eat together. This was a time when differences were put aside; there were happiness and peace. I could feel that as I talked with my father, Sheetal’s mother, her grandparents and so on.
How nice it was to have that ambience! I would not have let anything take away that comfortable, peaceful environment.
It’s all dung
Some day soon, each of these and other precious relationships I have will yet again have some sort of disagreement with me. There will be a withdrawal of affirmation; that frown or that angry chat which will dismay me. I will have that sinking feeling in my stomach, yet again.
I might feel disappointed, upset that disagreements were not prevented. I will probably go through days and weeks of thoughts and re-thoughts of what someone said, what I should have said in defence and how that would have been the right answer to shut them up. I would have thought of enough Bible verses to quote in my defence, the next time anyone repeats such a thing.
When it is lost, “acceptance” seems like something you need to live peacefully, joyfully and with great purpose to your full potential. The trouble is, we look for it in all the wrong places. Some even suggest that we live for nobody’s acceptance! Had it been the old Aravind writing this, right here would have been the place to stop writing.
But as a Christian, I have been given a new identity.
Colossians 3:12 addresses followers of Jesus, God’s children, this way –
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…”(emphasis mine)
To a church that had divided itself along the Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds, God’s Word said – “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom15:7, emphasis mine).
But how is it that the God of the universe accepts a people highly imperfect and unlike Him? How is it that Christ-followers are holy and beloved to Him and welcomed by God almighty?
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)
If it had not been for God’s work of making us trust in Jesus, we would have still been children of wrath like the rest of mankind (Eph 2:3). You see, our position has been changed from those who will face God’s just punishment to those who have been rescued because our elder brother, Jesus, was offered as a sacrifice by God the Father so He could own us. What kind of unbelievable love is that! And now on, because Jesus gave us His record and power of righteousness, our acceptance before God is equal to how God the Father accepted Jesus himself.
Just like Jesus was approved
That’s right. Imagine how Jesus was received after He rose victorious, defeating even death, to heaven. What a grand, loving welcome for the Son of God, as He embraced the unity of the Father and Holy Spirit again.
Same to you, oh lovers and servants of Jesus.
God’s acceptance frees you from the chains of the lesser acceptances, the cheap imitations that we run after each hour and invest in, like crazy. It frees you to obey Jesus.
I try to imagine what it would look like if the good standing I have with my colleagues, spiritual mentors, parents, wife and son were to be lost in 10 minutes from now. I imagine how it would feel like. Now, I try to imagine how it will be if my heavenly Father’s acceptance of me in Christ were to be taken away. Should I not be altogether more horrified, more appalled at the slightest hint of that possibility?
If I am not, I am living for mere earthlings’ praises and approval. I am not Christ’s bondservant (Gal 1:10). What a dreadful, eternally wasted life would that be!
It is natural to seek unity and peace with our cherished relationships. It is idolatry if we maintain peace while compromising on speaking the truth in love and other expectations that Christ places on all who are His disciples.
If you start living trusting God the Father’s stunning acceptance of you, you will not die pleasing your loved ones.
All these years, if you have lived to enjoy others’ appreciation, now treat all that as a massive, disastrous loss. Instead, you must ask for faith in the everlasting solid fact that better than the most precious relationship you possess today, is the acceptance God the Father bestowed upon you the day Jesus became everything for you.
Which relationship on earth do you derive acceptance most from?
How do you plan to repent of it?