PERFORM for ACCEPTANCE
Most people have a common desire to be accepted by others. Do you know anyone who doesn’t seek to be accepted? I don’t think I do. Growing up, I felt that I had to perform in order to be accepted. When I was good at something it seemed that others would pay attention—that they would like and accept me. Experience quickly taught me that good performance equaled acceptance while poor performance often meant some kind of rejection. So, driven by the desire to be accepted, I worked to achieve. Still, I was nagged by the suspicion that whatever I did would not be enough.
Today, if you feel like much of your acceptance in life is based on performance, take a few moments to be comforted by the truth that there is One whose love is not based on what you do or don’t do. Jesus loves you for who you are at this very moment. This is perhaps one of life’s most important lessons to learn!
Unfortunately, I also learned this same lesson in church and in a variety of ways. For example, as a kid, I was part of our church’s Bible Drill program. Every Wednesday night, we learned one of the books of the Bible and on Sunday evening we would compete against other. The one who turned to the verse first and read it out loud the most times, would get a gold star by our name on the Bible Drill roster. Another star was added next to our name on the bulletin board for everyone to see! Of course, most of us forgot the verses within a few days — but that wasn’t the point! Getting your gold star and more gold stars than the other kids was point! I actually remember being happy when one of my friends was absent because it meant I could get ahead in the race for most gold stars! The lesson was unintentionally taught, but so much of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus became reduced to performance. I learned lessons like Jesus loves good people; people who follow all of the rules; people who get more gold stars than anyone else. This has been a hard lesson to unlearn.
Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned more and more about the real Jesus. While obedience to Christ is important — I’ve learned that Jesus’ love for me and His acceptance of me — does not depend on whether I’m always obedient. I’ve found Jesus is far more loving and accepting than I had ever imagined. I am convinced that His love for us never fades nor fails. He accepts us without conditions of performance. He always treats us the same way. Yes, He loves us on our best day. And, He loves us just as much on our worst day. The ultimate proof of his acceptance was his willingness to die for us — “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).