The Transformation of Acceptance

For over 20 years, the churches I attended were essentially experience-driven. Feeling good and healthy was a sign of God’s favour whereas sickness and misfortune pointed to moral failings. Worse still, if your sickness did not respond to prayer, you were saddled not just with the sickness but also with guilt; it was your fault, your own failings. Behind all the public assertions of freedom and liberty, what I experienced was rigorously legalistic. In the community I was in, and in my other churches, I experienced leaders, who presented themselves as essentially better and as ultimate role models, who enforced “standards” of behaviour and thinking. Effectively, they claimed to be able to live my life better than I could and sought to enforce a kind of parade ground conformity.  The effect of all this on me was ruinous. It led me not to holiness but to cover-up, deceit, and, pretence.

To contrast my past to what I have found in MCC, here I have finally been accepted for who I am. Most importantly this acceptance has given me the ability to find God as He really is because I am more really me. With all my faults, I’ve discovered that God loves the person He created. I have come to believe that God finds it exceedingly difficult to communicate His love to those putting on an act no matter how much effort has gone into it. In being my genuine self, I have discovered the love of God just like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. I am so grateful to God and those in this community around me who have made that possible.

I must stress this has not been an easy endeavor. In the face of God’s acceptance, I now must face up to who I am without the protection of legalistic religion. I must admit to how wrong I have been in my judgements and opinions, and how much my religion has actually been an escape from God, and not an honouring of Him. I now know that in this community, loved as I am, that it is safe not to cover-up, because the God who really knows me, also really loves me.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?”, Jesus says, “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)

Discovering our true worth in God’s eyes changes everything.

Ian Stanton