The good news of God’s acceptance is not widely preached. You are much more likely to hear about God’s high standards than his unmerited favor. It’s like Jesus has this list of positive qualities he is looking for in his ideal bride.
She needs to be a good cook, like Martha, and have plenty of good works, like the woman in Proverbs 31. She should have a sense of humor and enjoy long walks on the beach.
It’s ridiculous. Jesus has no list and if he did, none of us would ever make it.
Yet many act as if Jesus was grading them on their performance. They mistake the voice of condemnation for the Lover of their souls: “How much did you pray last week? Five minutes? Oh deary dear. I didn’t think I could be disappointed but you disappoint me.”
This perverse picture of performance-based acceptance has given rise to a strange situation: While many Christians know that Jesus is the friend of sinners, they don’t know that he is the friend of them. They don’t see themselves as God’s friends but his servants. “I’m just a humble doorkeeper in the house of my Lord.” No you are not. Jesus didn’t suffer and die to increase the size of heaven’s household staff. What in the world does God need servants for anyway? The One who spoke the universe into existence is quite capable of doing everything himself.
God is not your divine employer. He is your heavenly Father who loves you. It is imperative that you get this.
You have to see yourself as totally accepted by God and basking in his divine and unmitigated pleasure. This is where the rubber of your faith hits the road of his grace. If you don’t receive his acceptance, you will waste your life running after something he has already given you.
[Excerpted from The Gospel in Ten Words, pp.75-6]