“A love that left people alone in their guilt would not have real people as its object. So, in vicarious responsibility for people, and in His love for real human beings, Jesus becomes the one burdened by guilt.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. The stores are decorated with hearts and other symbols of love. Hearts made out of cheap chocolate are being purchased right and left for a loved one. We show affection to those we love on this special day.
However, whether we like Valentine’s Day or we celebrate Singles Awareness Day, aren’t there times we feel alone in a crowded room? Deep inside and behind the mask of loving another and receiving love resides something in us that says, “In reality, I do not know if I am love and accepted.”
In my own life, I have friends, a beautiful and loving wife… yet, I can feel like I am not loved and accepted. I look at my body shame and the struggles that resulted from those scarring events and deep inside a thought reminds me, “If only others knew, then they would be gone.”
We all have those thoughts. We want to be truly loved and truly accepted. If only people could see…
Yet, we keep our lives tucked away and accept cheap chocolate as a cheap replacement for the Truth.
You Are Loved
The truth is if people did see your true heart, then you may not be loved. The thoughts you think, and the words you have said, and the actions you stuff in the closet of your past would turn many people away. And, we know it. It is the door we hope no one will ever open.
However, when we open that door we feel like the woman caught in adultery. John 8:2-11 recounts the events of the religious leaders throwing before Jesus a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders forcing her to stand in the center of the crowd in shame. Jesus stops teaching to look at her. She was caught in the act of adultery, and she may not have been fully dressed. She was feeling the weight of her sin. Yet, what does Jesus do? He does not condemn her. He shows her compassion. He shows her love, and tells her “Go, and sin no more.” Jesus had forgiven her, and now she could leave in order to sin no more.
Secretly, we know we are this woman. If people found out about us, then they would force us to stand in shame to receive our punishment. But, that is not the heart of God. Yes, God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. God’s true heart is that he does not want one anyone to perish in sin. No. Read II Peter 3:9.
God loves you. He knows what is in your closet. He knows your thoughts. He sees what you want no one else to see and he acted on it (John 3:16). Why would Jesus take on a human body, die, and rise again keeping his body?
God did not show his love with cheap chocolate. He body was broken and blood spilt. It was not a caramel center with a rush of sugar. His blood was spilt for your forgiveness out his love.
You are Accepted
Yet, we may feel love, but have you ever just wanted to be hugged and accepted? You didn’t want to jump through one more hoop. When we have been rejected so many times, we take actions in order to feel accepted. We secretly exchange anything for acceptance. And, if anyone opened our lives they would see a heart where the teeth of false acceptance have feasted.
We may say we believe that God has accepted us, but why do we keep going to buy something, or eat, or go online to find that relationship, or binge watch when we feel alone? It is because we do not feel accepted.
“I am saved. Here is the date in my Bible.” Why do we rely on a date in hope of sensing some acceptance of God?
We need to go to God’s Word. God calls you his beloved. He calls you his child, and that makes you his son or daughter (Romans 8:15). The only other person in the Bible he calls beloved and his son is Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). To God you are accepted as his child and not a child seen in disappointment. You are his beloved child in whom he is well pleased. You are accepted.
We do not have to work in order to be accepted by God. It has been done through Christ (Romans 3:21-26). The gifts of love and acceptance may change as each Valentine’s Day pass, but God’s acceptance is constant.
But, Why Do I Not Feel Like It?
And, now we come to the real question. The truth can be preached. Verses of God’s love can be tattooed on our bodies, but yet we struggle with it because we do not feel it.
Yes, God has shown his love to us in Christ, and we are accepted because of Christ. But, did you know God has provided a genuine way this love can be felt?
The Church is Christ’s body, and according to I Corinthians 12:12-26 this is the place where Christ’s love is felt. In fact, Paul commands the believers in Rome and in Corinth to greet each other with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20). A kiss is a physical touch of affection, love, and acceptance.
Now in our culture a kiss is reserved. Yet, what about a hug? Too often we dress up, shake hands with others in our churches, and it feels like the coldest action of love ever felt. We dare not show affection. Instead, we allow the pursuit of purity in the church, and having right biblical views over loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have lost the balance. We need both. Our churches are not cold buildings where we make sure people are believing the right things, and following the right rules. The church is to be a home where God’s adopted children gather to love each other and study the Scriptures. It is not an either/or. It is a necessity for it to be a both/and.
How many people in our churches have left because they did not feel loved? How many people in our churches say they are fine, but in reality they are dying inside? In the shadow of our own steeples, we have forgotten to see people, hear people, and love and accept people. It is through us that Christ’s love is felt.
So leave the candy aisle. Don’t get another person cheap chocolate or a card that will be thrown out. Are you willing to listen to a fellow brother’s pain? Are you willing to be called by a fellow sister late at night? Are you willing to hug your brother who just fell again? Are you willing to take a fellow sister to lunch and spend money in order to encourage her? Are you willing to be the person through whom the truth of God’s love and acceptance is felt?
We are loved and accepted by God. But, we are the way he has chosen to show it in the church. Right teaching will continue to feel cold unless we match it with our actions.
5 thoughts on “Loved and Accepted”
As I read this, I mentally agreed, but my emotions cried “no!”. The prospect of disclosing myself, of baring my soul to others in church is frightening and I feel it would be uncomfortable to others. I pray daily to get out of this situation, but do far I don’t see a way out.
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But, it is what we are called to do. We are called to be open and willing to battle together.
I agree with you Armando. Often times. I’ve had to open my heart to others in the church. . And I can see how uncomfortable they are with my words. And they avoid me. In church, they avoid me. Because they know that what I have to say. Is my pain and my sorrow in my experience. They don’t want to hear it.. however with my closest friends would love me. But my family my wife my son I can share. My deepest heart and fears with them. . The church is supposed to be like a family. . But I have found that it is not like a family. The American church is broken. God help us.
I nodded along with you all the way through this. There are probably hundreds of ways we invent to protect ourselves from the fear that we are not truly loved or accepted. Some might push others away with obnoxious behavior, while others tend to over-help in an effort to make sure they are needed by someone. (This is me.) People pleasing, conflict avoiding … the possibilities are endless. I’m learning what it means to love and be loved by the church, certainly not in a perfect way, but in very small, important ways. Thanks for writing this! We are so quick to ignore the key element – love – in favor of self-protection.
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You said “I’m learning what it means to love and be loved by the church, certainly not in a perfect way, but in very small, important ways. ” Help me understand what you mean. Give me an example. What does it look like for you?