“Either you change, or I am going!” Ever heard that said? Or, “You can be part of our group, but you need to make some changes.” How about: “I am not good enough, I have to make changes.”
Harsh words, but change seems to be a prerequisite to acceptance in our society, in our churches, in our relationships and in our own minds. In the world we live in, it would seem that acceptance is not possible without change.
Even in our own lives, we often cannot accept ourselves until we have made changes. We have lost weight, dressed better, got promoted, moved up, have more influence, learnt more and so the list goes on.
Now acceptance, is the embracing of your person. It is embracing who you are, just as you are, without the requirement to change.
All of us crave acceptance, it is one of the core desires in all of us. Being accepted is to experience love with no strings attached. Here is a statement that changed the way I see people, my response to relationships and my attitude to myself. It is:
We often wait for evidence of change before we accept people. But Jesus’ practice was accepting people without the requirement for change and that this acceptance triggered change in the person being accepted.
You see it in “Zecchaeus, get down from there, I am coming to your house for tea” Zecchaeus is an evil man in society’s eyes, shunned as a tax collector, no one is going to give him a leg up to see Jesus. But Jesus not only knows his name, he goes to be with him in his house. Jesus demonstrates acceptance and this triggers inward change in Zecchaeus, who on his own, realizes his past actions and makes public restitution with interest. (Luke 19:1-10)
The Samaritan woman at the well, accepted even though she had many lovers and was shunned by society, is talked to and offered “living water” by a man, who knew everything about her. His acceptance triggers a change that has her running to town to tell others to come see the Christ. (John 4:1-30).
This acceptance that triggers change is seen in every encounter that Jesus has, even with those closest to him like Peter and doubting Thomas. His acceptance does not wait for evidence of change, His acceptance IS THE TRIGGER that brings change.
I know that I personally withhold acceptance of people right now because I am waiting for change. I fight for this change in them, wait for this change in them, withdraw because I do not see change, reject because they will not change. Then when I do see change: I distrust it, will not forgive past offenses, and wait for a mistake to prove that change has not happened.
If I follow the pattern that Jesus set, wont acceptance without the requirement for change be so much more powerful? Will not acceptance communicate love more effectively?
“Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.” 1 Cor 13:5
How would your life change if you practiced more acceptance and less requiring change?
Father, thank you that Your love for me is unconditional. There is no requirement for me to change before you accept me and love me, just as I am. Help me to extend this same acceptance to others, to work on my heart and attitude so that it reflects the your heart to others.
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