The answer to the question, “Does Jesus accept me?” is pretty clear when you read the Bible. But sadly there are people who don’t believe they can be accepted by Christ because they’ve never been accepted by Chris followers.
To be honest, there’s a tension I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time. I’m still wrestling:
The tension between acceptance and truth.
On the one hand, the world tells me I should be accepting of every person no matter their belief or lifestyle. On the other hand, God’s Word speaks the truth of an unchanging, holy standard, and to fall short of the standard is sin.
How do I live in such a way that accepts people without compromising the truth of God’s Word? To put it another way, how do I show grace and truth?
I can hear the arguments for each side already.
Those who lean toward acceptance say:
- What right do I have to tell someone their belief or lifestyle is wrong?
- Who am I to judge?
- Shouldn’t I love everyone no matter what?
Those who lean toward truth say:
- We shouldn’t be afraid to speak the hard truths by telling others about their sin.
- It honors God to live a holy life apart from the world.
- Don’t compromise the Word of God by accepting people’s lifestyle.
What’s a guy to do?
If anyone knew how to live in the tension between acceptance and truth, it was Jesus Christ. The disciple John tells us at the beginning of his account on the life of Jesus that “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Jesus perfectly demonstrated what it looks like to live in the tension between grace (or acceptance) and truth.
Here are five things I’m learning from looking at the life of Jesus.
1. I can accept people without accepting lifestyle.
Jesus ate with sinners (Luke 5:30). He obviously found a way to be accepting of people without being accepting of lifestyle. And Jesus was criticized for it!
The religious leaders thought Jesus wasn’t representing God very well because he associated with people they classified “unworthy.”
Jesus responds to their criticism. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31).
Put another way, you will not be able to influence the darkness if you’re only shining your light where it’s bright.
2. There’s a middle ground between condone and condemn.
To condone someone’s actions is to overlook. To condemn someone is to pronounce judgment. Jesus found the middle ground between condone and condemn.
John 8 tells the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery and was thrown at the feet of Jesus. It was a trap. The Pharisees wanted to see if Jesus would condone her actions or condemn her to death.
Here’s how Jesus perfectly navigated the hot waters:
“I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more”(John 8:11).
Wow! Instead of condoning or condemning, Jesus connects with the woman and conveys a message of hope and healing. He desired her freedom from a life of sin, and freedom to a new life in Christ.
3. Calling it sin doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
Actually the opposite is true. Calling something sin is lovingly identifying a potential cancer in life that will rob you of true joy and peace.
As a father, my love for my daughters is evident because we have boundaries in their life of things they can and can’t do.
They may desire to eat chocolate ice cream at 10:00 at night, but I know that’s not good for their physical health. Boundaries don’t limit us. They give us freedom to pursue an abundant and blessed life.
4. I can’t change people.
I can’t change people, but I can point people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am not the Savior, but I know the Savior. Since I know the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, I must point others to him through my walk and talk.
Jesus loved people where they were, but he also loved them too much to leave them there.
- The woman at the well was changed (John 4).
- Zacchaeus was changed (Luke 19:1-10).
- The adulterous woman was changed (John 8:1-11).
- Saul was changed (Acts 9).
People don’t change when I accept them. They change when they realize grace and truth are evident through the cross. In the cross we see God’s forgiveness and grace, but we also see God’s wrath and truth.
5. Jesus first accepted me.
God doesn’t love me because of what I do for him. God loves me and so he pursues me. He does for me what I cannot do for myself (2 Corinthians 5:21).
My motivation for accepting others is to open the door to share and show the love of Jesus Christ. I want others to see Christ in me so ultimately I can share Christ with them.
Does Jesus accept me? Absolutely. And he changes me, renews me, gives me purpose, and grants me a home in God’s eternal kingdom.
Copyright © 2020 Andy Comer @ https://www.andycomer.org/blog/does-jesus-accept-me/. Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.