Do you believe that God is 100% for you? But, do you, really, believe it? Not only that he accepts you and your flaws, but that he actually looks at you with great delight.
I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and I think this is possibly one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves.
Knowledge vs Understanding
I think that far too often we just leave things like this as a vague idea in our head, something that sounds good in words but doesn’t translate into reality. For 22 years of my life I thought that I believed this. If someone had asked me the question, I would have quickly responded yes, then gone back to living as if I didn’t believe it in the least. I had knowledge, but it wasn’t even close to understanding.
The Gospel message is that we can be completely accepted, and counted righteous, purely by Christ’s perfect life and death on the cross. Jesus takes our sin and trades us his own righteousness. Yet, we don’t seem to live this way (well, at least I know I don’t!). Because if we, really, believed and lived this out, it would change everything.
Let’s just take joy as an example. I recently read “We cannot be truly happy unless God’s acceptance of us is totally based on Christ.” Do you think this is true? Have you experienced this?
For me, this last year has particularly been a journey of acceptance. There have been times in my life where I’ve felt acceptance, but I’ve almost always felt that it’s been tied up in my performance. I was likeable because I worked hard to be nice, polite, I didn’t get angry, etc. For the most part, I could earn people’s approval due to my behaviour. But the challenge for me has been differentiating how oppositely the world works compared to God.
While the world deems us worthy of belonging based on an endless variety of criteria, God does not. Romans 3 paints our greatest efforts clearly “None is righteous, no, not one” and “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Even though this makes it distinct, I know I constantly fall into patterns of earning Gods approval, and just like when I work for the worlds approval, it leaves me so insecure, always guessing if I’ve done enough. The best news in the world is that our righteousness is not based on our works.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard that and it’s meant nothing to me. I love how Keller says, “You won’t be excited about a saviour, unless you know you need saving”. Only when we know how unrighteousness we are in our natural selves will we understand how loved we are when we are given Jesus’ perfect righteousness.
Never before have I tasted such pure, free, joy as this. Romans 8:31-32 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Sorry for the long post but, I LOVE what Piper says about our righteousness and the pursuit of joy:
“The great gospel weapon in the fight for joy is the rock-solid reality that we are counted righteous in Christ by faith alone. That gospel weapon is powerful only to the degree we keep the basis of our justification free from our own performances. God accepts us on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, not ours. Oh, what a difference it makes to be assured, in the discouraging darkness of our own imperfection, that we have a perfect righteousness — namely, Christ’s.” (When I Don’t Desire God, p85)
I’m challenged by:
1 – Am I excited about a saviour? Far too often I think that I’m doing pretty well and don’t really need Jesus anymore. I foolishly think that I deserve Grace. My pride and entitlement destroy my reliance on Christ’s righteousness and not my own, and consequently I lose all of my joy.
2 – I get caught up thinking that God works the same as the world – I should get what I deserve, if I perform well, I am loved, but if I don’t…
3 – I look for my identity and acceptance in people rather than in Christ’s sacrifice for me.
Thank you for getting to the end of my long post, I sincerely hope that something here has encouraged or challenged you too. Maybe you would like to pray for me in these things, I know I would love to pray for/chat with you if anything stuck out for you. It is a great blessing to share what God is doing in my head and heart.