Freedom is found in knowing that God loves and accepts you. When you know beyond all doubt that you are your Daddy’s delight, you will be free from the need to please others. The pressure to perform will lift and the unholy expectations of men will seem ridiculous. My Father is pleased with me. I don’t have to prove a thing! If thoughts of rejection should enter your head, you will dismiss them without a care. God is for me! Who can be against me?
Religion says you have to work hard to make yourself acceptable to God, but the good news declares that in Christ you have been made acceptable for eternity. Nothing you do can make you more or less pleasing to God than you already are. There’s nothing you can do to make him love you more, and nothing you can do to make him love you less.
The good news of God’s acceptance will change the world but first it must change the church.
For too long the church has been known as a place of rejection, judgment, and condemnation. This is the inevitable consequence of a preaching a message that mixes grace with law. This mixed-up message makes the children of God fearful of their heavenly Father. It causes the saints to hang back in the fringes of the kingdom, and it paints a frown on the face of Love.
Can you imagine God the Father frowning at Jesus? Of course not. Then neither is he frowning at you.
In the old covenant they prayed for the day when the Lord would make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you, and give you peace. The good news is that you are living in that day. He is looking at you full in the face and beaming with a galaxy-sized smile. You are the apple of his eye, and he rejoices over you with singing.
When we see that our heavenly Father accepts us, it will transform us from the inhospitable church we are to the accepting church we are called to be.
“Accept one another, as Christ accepted you” (Rom. 15:7). Imagine if we did that. We would open our hearts as we would no longer exclude the rabble and the riff-raff from our congregations and communion tables. Instead, we would have to start making welcome announcements like this:
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, black and proud, y no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are newborns, poor as dirt, skinny as a rail, or got a hitch in their git-along. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Lutheran than Luther, or more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Sophia’s dedication. We offer a special welcome to those who could lose a few pounds, think the earth is flat, work too hard, can’t spell, or came because grandma’s in town and wanted to go to church. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, are three-times divorced, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid, or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you are welcome here. We welcome tourists, seekers, doubters, bleeding hearts … and you. Welcome Home!
Extracted and adapted from The Gospel in Ten Words
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