Life Lesson 36: I am learning to live completely surrendered to God. I try to lean…
Life Lesson 12: I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to try to win God’s favor. I don’t need to clean up my act for God. When I come to Christ in faith, He accepts me as I am because His love for me is unconditional.
“All that the father gives me will come to me; and I won’t reject anyone who comes to me.”
-John 6:37 NTE
Before I became a Christian, I thought that God would only accept me if I worked hard enough to change my behavior, if I did good works, and if I did everything just right, then, and only then, would He accept me. It took years for me to let go of that erroneous thinking. Truth be told, I even felt like I couldn’t measure up to God’s acceptance. For a while, even after surrendering my life to Christ, I still had that wrong mindset. It was when I intentionally began reading the Bible that I would come see myself the way God sees me, as fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
Even as we go about the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, doing our own thing, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In God’s eyes, everything He created is very good (Genesis 1:31), which is why God accepts us, and why we’re precious in His sight.
Think about something you have made or something you worked on. Maybe it’s a project at work, an event you helped to plan, or the playhouse you made for you child; something that you are so very proud of. I would bet that every time you thought about it or looked at what you created, you felt a sense of accomplishment and you took delight in what you have made. Because God created us, He accepts us and He looks at us with great love, tender mercy, and grace.
Thank God! He doesn’t wait for us to get better or to be perfect before He accepts us. If that were the case, we would be in serious trouble because we can’t do enough good works to impress God or to win His favor. Because of God’s great mercy, we’re accepted into His Kingdom. He looks at mankind and graciously gives us what we don’t deserve. We don’t have to earn God’s love or acceptance, He has already accepted us through grace. In fact, Ephesians 2:8-9 declares, “You have been saved by grace, through faith! This doesn’t happen on your own initiative; it’s God’s gift. It isn’t on the basis of works, so no one is able to boast.” Scripture also tells us that “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 NLT).
Unfortunately, there are some who still believe that if they lived a good life and did enough good deeds, then that will secure a place for them in heaven. But how much is enough to get into heaven? How many good works are necessary to enter the Kingdom of God? There is nothing we can do to make God love and accept us any more or any less. He already does!
Take the thief on the cross for example. In the Gospels, we’re told that Jesus was crucified between two criminals. Aware of his faults, one of the criminals said, “We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” He continued, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43 NLT). Jesus didn’t say to him, “Too late, you have already missed your chance or you’re not good enough.” Right then and there, He told the condemned man, “Today you will be with me….” Not tomorrow when you do this or that, but right now you’re accepted into God’s Kingdom.
If you don’t already know Jesus, do like the thief on the cross and say to Him, Lord, “remember me.” As we see in Scripture, those two powerful words tell us so much about where the man was, his fate, and his faith in Jesus as the Son of God. He believed that Jesus was God and He had the power to save him. Jesus’ response to him assures us that God accepts us exactly as we are when we come to Him in faith and with a repentant heart.
So, how is it possible for God to accept us despite our sins or imperfections? Well, because He already knows every aspect of our lives, yet He still desires to have a relationship with each of us. Because God loves us, He does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Our best efforts cannot save us. As sinners, we understand that we need a Savior. If we acknowledge our sins and repent of them, Scripture tells us that “He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
God’s acceptance of us has nothing to do with how good we are, or in what we do. It’s about His amazing love for humanity. It’s about transforming us into the likeness of Christ. Our goal then should be to look more like Jesus. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He changes us into His image, which as we grow in our relationship with Christ, will reflect in our conversation, conduct, and character. That image is what enables us through the power of the Holy Spirit to accept others, despite their faults. This doesn’t mean, however, that we condone their offensive behavior, it simply means that we love because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19). The Bible tells us that “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him”(John 3:17 NLT).
Jesus teaches us to accept one another and not to judge or condemn a person based on our own standards. Instead, we should “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). In Luke 6:37 (NLT), we are told, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Because God accepts us and has forgiven our sins, we too should make allowance for each other’s faults (Colossians 3:13).
Salvation is God’s acceptance of us and it’s freely available to anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no need to get all dressed up for Him. Right now, Jesus is probably knocking at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20). Can you hear Him? At this moment, what is keeping you from opening the door and receiving Christ as your Savior? I assure you, when you open the door of your heart and let Him in, you will never want Him to leave! Remember, Jesus doesn’t condemn you. He accepts you as you are with unconditional and eternal love.
“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
– C.S. Lewis
Pictures by stock.adobe.com