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Accept yourself

December 2007

Dear Friends,

Would you take seriously with me something that follows from a statement in Mark’s gospel? Here it is: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

He looked at a young man who took life fairly seriously and he really liked what he saw. What follows from that statement? Well, it wasn’t true only of that young man. It tells us something about Jesus Christ, and therefore about God, in relation to us: “Jesus looks at you and loves you.”
He made you and me and he likes what he made.

Put it another way. Imagine walking down the street and meeting Jesus. He would look at you with great pleasure, full of respect for what he saw, liking you, full of insight about what you are capable of.

So enjoy being you!

Faith is basically agreeing with Jesus. No less a person than the Son of God accepts and enjoys us. In dying for us He e He has dealt with the barriers to that acceptance; then accept yourself as he does. Brilliant!

I can hear your ‘but ..’s, but Jesus is gracious and has counter-buts to all of them.

‘But,’ you say, ‘you don’t know what I’ve done.’ But the Gospel answers, Jesus died for those very sins. The Bible replies:

I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and as a cloud, your sins. (Isaiah 44.22)

You have cast all my sins behind your back (Isaiah 38.17)

He will have compassion on us and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7.19)

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103.12)

Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more (Jer. 31.34).

You might remember those things you did or said; but if you asked God about them he would say, ‘I distinctly remember forgetting them.’

Our Lord’s reply is actually even better than that. Christ not only forgives but positively justifies us: he pardons all our sins, AND accepts us as righteous in his sight, for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us as we believe Him.

If our first doubt might be our guilt over what we have done or failed to do, the second has to do with our character. ‘But,’ you say, ‘look what I am like!’ Well, Jesus can bear that sight too.

It is true that we are a work in progress, and neither what we should be nor what we shall be. It’s not the future you but the present you, however, whom Jesus has accepted. That’s what grace is all about. To change slightly a paragraph by a twentieth century writer, Paul Tillich:

'Grace strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved or from which we were estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.

‘Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and a voice says ’You are accepted. You are accepted. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!‘ If that happens to us, we experience grace. In that moment, grace conquers sin. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or intellectual or moral proposition, nothing but acceptance.’

It is really true, folk. Jesus made you; he likes what he made; faith is agreeing with Jesus.

Enjoy being you!

Yours sincerely

C Peter White

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