Friday, April 14, 2017

God Does Not Accept Me For Who I Am


Our culture is obsessed with acceptance.  Have you noticed this?

Believe in yourself.  Be yourself.  Come as you are.  Accept people for who they are.  Don't judge.  I felt judged.  I promise I won't judge you.  I promise I wasn't judging you.  Love yourself.  Don't ever change.  Treat others the way they want to be treated.  

And perhaps you've even heard this one:  God accepts you for who you are.  Unconditionally.

That is a lie.  And if you believe it, it comes straight from your culture, not from your Bible.

God does not accept us for who we are.  He never has.  He cannot.  He literally cannot go against His perfect and holy nature and accept us for who we are.  In fact, the Bible says that we are enemies of God.  That we are children of Satan.  That we are at war with God.  That He despises our sin.

That is not acceptance.

But here is the hope:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Acceptance, no.  But love, yes.

The problem is that our society simply refuses to acknowledge the fact that we all are wretched sinners.  It's ridiculous, really, because we watch the news at night and we discipline the children who are clawing each other's eyes out and we shame the bullies and we are horrified at the racism and the raping and the riots, but then we think the answer to all of this is simply to.....accept one another?  Really?  Yet we do everything we can to tell ourselves that we're really not all that bad, that we just need to build our self-esteem and get rid of the toxic people in our lives and practice better self-care, and then our lives will be grand.

Oh, I get it.  We're all good people, deep down.  Sometimes really deep down.  At least I am, right? After all, I wouldn't have been one of the millions of Germans who stood by and watched the ashes of six million Jews fall on my head.  It wouldn't have been me who picked up a machete and murdered one million neighbors in Rwanda.

Seems to me that the deeper you go, the less goodness you find--not more.

It's true that as a human made in the image of God, I am infinitely valuable.  But I have never been worthy of acceptance.  I am arrogant and selfish.  My patience level is directly connected to sleep and food and air temperature.  My heart is not naturally inclined to worship God.  Perhaps if God was a good-natured grandpa, partially blind and deaf, then he could find it in his heart to accept me.  But who would want to worship that kind of God anyway?

Jesus Christ died on the cross because God does not accept me.  It's like the parent who loves his drug-addicted son so much that he cashes in his pension and sells his house to pay for his treatment.  That's not acceptance; because what parent willingly accepts his child's addiction?  But that is love.  Amazing love.  Sacrificial love.  Unconditional love.  Never-stopping, never-giving-up love.  But not acceptance.  We cannot confuse the two.

I cannot understand the cross until I understand that my sin is the reason it cost so much.  I cannot understand that cost until I come face-to-face with the truth that I Am Not Acceptable.  But He became Acceptable for me.  I was not acceptable, and yet I am loved in a way that is far beyond what I can ever understand.  And the more I understand my wretchedness, the deeper I understand His love.

I am now acceptable to God.  Not because of who I am, but because of what He has done.

The new morality in our culture bears the disguise of goodness.  Don't we want people to just feel good about themselves?  Except that when we do that, we lie to ourselves.  We lie to our friends.  We lie to our children.  Often we make our sin worse because we refuse to deal with it--or even acknowledge it.  And certainly, we lose the power of the cross.  And that is a tragedy indeed.

"Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet." (Thomas Watson)

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