Accepted, according to Webster’s dictionary, means regarded favorably: given approval or acceptance.
At some point in your life you may have heard that word - possibly when getting into your dream school, making it on the team, or joining into a loving family by marriage or adoption. Acceptance feels good.
Contradictory to that, rejection does not. Feeling less than, not chosen, or being left out can burn. Have you ever had a great idea? Maybe at work you had something you wanted to bring to the table but no one else felt the same way about it? Or maybe the family you are a part of doesn’t value or approve of you. Sometimes you may feel left out, perhaps purposely or by personal fault, but either way, the idea of not being accepted can derail us if we can’t fully grasp the depth to which we have already been accepted. Our acceptance happened long before we were even born.
If anyone understands what it’s like to not feel accepted it’s Jesus. At one point when he was performing miracles, he went back to his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus was speaking in the synagogues and on one account they didn’t like what he had to to say.
Luke 4:28-30 says, “When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.” (NLT)
Not many of us have actually been pushed to the edge of a cliff in hopes we would fall to our death. But, as we can see, Jesus certainly understands rejection.
Think about the disciples whom Jesus chose to walk with during his final years on Earth. These men weren’t exactly regarded as favorable. Honestly, some people couldn’t believe they were walking with Jesus- some of which were a tax collector, fishermen, a zealot. If we looked at their given titles, we wouldn’t think much of such men. But Jesus chose them because he saw something others couldn’t see. He accepted them when others didn’t, not because of “what” they did, but because of “whose” they were.
That same acceptance is extended to you. It’s not an exclusive club meant just for those that act a certain way, have a certain look, come from a particular upbringing, work a certain job or drink only strong coffee (whew, cuz I’m definitely a decaf kinda girl 😅). Acceptance is joining the body of Christ, coming as you are, being fully accepted into His family. In time, you may change as you grow in your relationship with Christ, but he doesn’t ask you to wait until you’re at that point to be His. Right now, He chooses you. I love this verse:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Once we can grasp that long before we were born we were already chosen, accepted and designed with a particular purpose in mind, rejection won’t have the final say. It may still sting, but it won’t define us because the one who created the universe calls us His masterpiece. Let that sink in.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31 NLT
The voices around you may say rejected, but the Voice within you says “accepted”.
When we moved, we had a new address to memorize. Being close to the holidays, I’m making more purchases and I find myself at times typing in our previous address at checkout. Then I’m like, “Duh, we moved! That’s not our home any more. I have a new residence”. I liked our old house, it was safe and secure, but something was missing. We had fun in our old home and enjoyed some things about the area we lived in, but when we took the step of Faith and left our comfort, security and what we were used to-we stepped into something better we didn’t know we were missing. We finally felt “home”.
It’s a similar feeling to our walk with Christ. When we decide to follow Him, we are no longer citizens of this Earth, we are citizens of Heaven. It can feel a little uncomfortable at first making changes from the old to the new. Sometimes change entails leaving behind things we thought gave us purpose or activities we found fulfilling- for something different.
In fact 2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT says, “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”
And verse 17 says:
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Transformation, like moving from one home to another, doesn’t usually happen over night and most times it’s not easy. Truly living life with an eternal perspective can take some time. Consequently, it can feel as if living this way has totally complicated life. Below vs 13 says that, “if it seems that we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.” Even in the Bible, people were feeling torn between living a “normal” life vs the “crazy” life passionate for God. But hey, just what if there really is more to life than just what we see now?! What if being that “crazy Bible person” is actually a door to living a life full of passion and purpose?
“If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life."
2 Corinthians 5:13-14 NLT
Sometimes it is hard to lay down your old life and carry on with the “new” one. Being accepted by those around you can be the hardest part of running the race, but when you start to reap the benefits of a life sold out for Him you won’t look back. Satan doesn’t know your future, only your past, so oftentimes he’ll remind you of past shame and guilt. Maybe your family or friends liked the “old you” better and you’re feeling like a failure to those you hoped would be your biggest support in your life change. Living like a resident of Heaven vs Earth isn’t necessarily the easy path, but the rewards of living that way far outweighs not.
For me, living with eternal perspective has brought me more joy. It’s easy to be weighed down with the cares of this world and lose sight of what our purpose in life is, especially when times get tough.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT
We aren’t promised perfect or easy as Christ-followers, but when the One who took on all of our sin and imperfections, overcame death and defeated the grave- is on your side- living a life sold out to Him is life giving . Living for eternity shouldn’t cause “FOMO” , because when you are living for Him, you actually open doors to not just a fulfilling life on Earth but eternal life as well. Once you accept Jesus as your Savior (see the link to learn more), your old life is gone. Your sins are cast as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12), your spirit is being renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16), and your future is bright (Jeremiah 29:11).
When I was younger one of my favorite things to do was to ride my bike. My family and I lived in a neighborhood that had big open roads, little traffic, and lots of hills to really get some speed. As I grew older, I continued to enjoy riding, but now my real joy is in teaching my daughters how to ride their bikes. My daughter Brooklyn is learning right now and there’s not a day that goes by where she doesn’t want to take her bike around the block. She has graduated from the parent pushed bike to now being able to peddle and steer herself. There’s only one problem when she rides: she always wants to look back at where she has come from instead of looking forward. When she does this, her bike almost immediately veers off into the grass or the gutter and her progress forward is stopped. At this, Brooklyn sheepishly looks at me and I pull her out of the grass, give her a little boost forward, but it won’t be too long until she is back in the grass again.
What happens to Brooklyn while riding her bike is something that happens to Christians many times throughout their walk with GOD. Brooklyn is excited about her progress and how fast she is riding, but there is still a glance back to where she has come from and that instinctively puts her into the grass. Often times, these crashes or detours into the grass will deflate her excitement about riding her bike and daddy will end up carrying her and the bike home. While here at Anchor Movement we have explored the “Back to Basics” series, I felt compelled to write this blog about not looking back at where you have come from, but to keep looking forward. Im not saying that we don’t want to be grateful for what GOD has done for us in the past, but what I see in our world today is individuals who can’t seem to get past their past so to speak. Why are we as a society and Christian people having so much difficulty with past experiences and present circumstances? I believe it’s because we aren’t keeping our eyes focused on what is in front of us. Too many times we get encompassed with the things that have happened to us in the past or what is happening to us in the present and we don’t allow GOD to heal those wounds and help us move forward.
I know life is hard and I realize that it can be cruel, unfair, and uncontrollable. I don’t take for granted anyones past experiences and what they have had to endure or go through in this life. Within 4 years of marriage my wife and I lost her mother to a tragic accident and a baby in the womb at 13 weeks. In between all of that was the normal struggle for any newly married couple trying to figure out life together. I can’t explain why tragedies happen. I don’t know why GOD doesn’t intervene to save innocent people from terrible misfortunes, but I do know what His word says:
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed." Isaiah 43:18-20
What I love about this verse of scripture and the picture it paints is that even in our wildernesses and wastelands, GOD is making a way. But here is the thing about being on a path—we have to keep moving forward. GOD is making a way through our past circumstances and present trials. Psalm 23 verse 4 says that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” We have to keep moving through where we are and where we have been. Just like Brooklyn needs to keep looking forward in order to stay on the sidewalk, as Christians we must let the past stay in the past and move into new levels that GOD has for us. What GOD has planned for you in the future is bigger than anything that has happened to you in the past. Mistakes you have made, poor decisions by others—nothing can separate you from your GOD given destiny.
Our encouragement and prayer for anyone reading this is that you will keep moving forward no matter where you are in life. GOD has not left you or abandoned you, but in reality He has made a way for you “through the wilderness.” Looking back will never propel you it will only eave you paralyzed in paralysis. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
"We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 TPT
Over the next several weeks and months, Anchor Movement is going to focus on a series called “Back to the Basics” where we answer and define what it actually means to be a Christian. We want to answer some of the questions that new and old believers have in their walk of faith. Some examples include, “How to study the Bible,” and “Why should I go to church.” If you have a question you’d like us to answer or explore on the blog, go to our connect page and leave your response or visit our Instagram page here and leave your response in the comments.
This past week I was rebuilding part of the website for Anchor Movement and looking at ways to continue bringing quality content to our readers when my past suddenly flashed before my eyes. I sat there in silence reliving some of the worst mistakes that I had made over the last 33 years of my life and then there was a single comment that broke the silence, “You aren’t qualified to tell others about Jesus.” At that moment, a feeling of shame and overwhelming grief covered me like a cold wet blanket. I couldn’t shake it. I thought about giving up. The voice was right. I’m not qualified. I have made some huge mistakes in my life and I ran from GOD for a long time. I drank more alcohol than I care to remember. I partied at places that are unmentionable. On top of all that I don’t have the education to share the gospel. No seminary degree. No doctorate in Greek or Hebrew. No learned skill set in the hermeneutical, philosophical, or theological interpretation of the Bible. The voice was right. I am not at all qualified. As I sat there mediating and sulking over my past a story came to my mind. It was about another man who made some huge mistakes in his life, but GOD chose to use him anyway. This man was chosen by GOD before he was ever born to establish the nation in which GOD’s people would come from and ultimately the Messiah. He was a liar, a cheat, lacking in character, and mischievous, but GOD chose him anyway and used his unique skill set to continue the Blessing of GOD and to establish the twelve tribes of Israel. This man was Jacob and he wasn’t qualified either.
If you read the story of Jacob, many church people believe that Jacob stole the blessing from his brother Esau. In my Bible, the title heading for chapter 27 says, “Jacob’s stolen blessing.” Now keep in mind, that title was not put there by GOD, but by the people who interpreted the scriptures into various languages and organized the Bible so we can accurately find scriptures today. What that title should say is, “Jacob given the Blessing.” If you turn back a few pages in Genesis to the birth of Jacob and Esau, you’ll see what I mean. In Genesis 25, Rebekah is pregnant and in her womb the two babies are wrestling with each other. As a concerned mother, Rebekah goes to The Lord and ask what is going on. His response is key to understanding the rest of Jacob’s life:
“And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.” Genesis 25:23-26 NLT
Did you catch that? The older son will serve the younger son. Who was older? Esau. Who was younger? Jacob. Jacob was the son GOD chose to be the next in line for the Blessing not Esau. God chose Jacob before either child was ever born. During that time period, the older son was always the son of the family blessing. That usually meant his inheritance was double that of any of the other siblings, but in this case, GOD chose the youngest son, the second born, the least likely, to be the continuation of GOD’s great plan. His parents even named him Jacob which means: supplanter, schemer, and treachery. Wow! Talk about a promising start, but how many of us know that GOD is not concerned with what people say, but only what He says. For most of Jacob’s early life he lived up to what his parents had originally called him by blackmailing his brother for his birthright and “stealing” the blessing Isaac meant to give Esau. Jacob defined himself by what others called him and let his actions mirror those expectations, but GOD used these past experience to put Jacob on the road to becoming the father of the twelve original tribes of Israel. Jacob ran from his brother and family and fled to another land to a farm owned by his uncle Laban. There he married Laban’s two daughters and they had children. When it came time for Jacob to leave his uncle Laban and travel back to his home country, he was still the same man as before until he had an encounter with GOD. In what is one of the most interesting stories in all the Bible, Jacob physically wrestled with GOD all night. When morning came, in order to stop the wrestling, GOD dislocated Jacob’s hip and called him by another name:
“Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel; you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” Genesis 32:28 MSG
God looked at Jacob and said you are no longer who you think you are. You are now who I say you are. You are Israel. You are no longer defined by what others have said or what you think, but you are now defined by the future that I have for you. In the New Testament, Paul describes this transaction for us in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV
Just like Jacob, GOD doesn’t define us by our past mistakes or sins. He looks at our future and says, “You are the righteousness of GOD. You are made perfect in Me.” Before Jacob was ever born, GOD called him Israel and before you were ever born GOD called you by your distinct name. You were destined for greatness before you were ever formed in the womb. Satan always wants to remind us of our past, but your true past was destined before you ever took a breathe. When Satan tried to remind me of my past and how unqualified I am to be sharing the gospel through Anchor Movement, I just remind him of Jacob. When you read the genealogy of Jesus you see Jacob mentioned third from the top after his Grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, but what you don’t see is anything mentioned about his past. GOD doesn’t record Jacob’s past when describes his future. GOD only remembers his future and that is the only thing he remembers in your life. GOD doesn’t look at your past and define you by your mistakes or sins, but he looks at your future and says, “you are chosen, loved, and intended for greatness.” The next time Satan tries to remind you of your past, just tell him, "My name is Jacob!"
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Galatians 6:4-5 NLT
Do you ever find yourself in comparison mode? Instagram and Pinterest have the unique ability to remind us of all our imperfections- from the food we eat, to the way we decorate our house. Even when you make a decision to continue in your career instead of being a stay at home mom, you are reminded of all the other moms who are “mommin’ so hard”…
It is easy to get caught up in the comparison game if our foundation isn’t firmly planted on things that matter the most. It can honestly drive a person crazy trying to live up to expectations that may not be realistic for their own personal current life situation. Galatians paints a great reminder to pay attention to our own actions, because that is what we are responsible for: ourselves. We can’t control what other’s may do or say but we can control ourselves- it’s a choice. Sometimes you may beat yourself up wondering why you aren’t doing something the way someone else does it.. it doesn’t mean you are right and they are wrong or vice versa because we all have a particular calling and destination for our lives that only we are held accountable for. Pray and ask GOD what a “job well done” looks like to Him. We tend to be our biggest critics- from making sure we are the trendiest in fashion, to being a perfectionist at our work place, in the home, or in school. Someone else’s “ideal” may not be yours, and that is totally ok!
Here are some ways to stop comparing and start celebrating the differences:
Find confidence in Him. Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Delight in the One who knows the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Seek Him who can direct paths rather than looking to others and ultimately discover God’s plan for your life as you draw near to Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.