“Every situation, good or bad, makes a withdrawal on our identity. We demonstrate our Christ-likeness or our carnality. There is no one else to blame for this since we are in charge of who we are and how we show up.” Graham Cooke: Secret Sayings, Hidden Meanings
I am so quick to treat others according to how they treat me. It is so easy to hold the attitude that I am somehow justified to treat them that way because of something they did or did not do to me. I hear myself doing it all the time. I have been so afraid of being hurt by people, I have hidden behind a mask of blame. “Well, the did ___ to me, so I did ___ to them.” It seems perfectly justifiable, especially in a culture that continually tells us to look out for Number 1 and to get what’s “ours.” Honestly, I’m not really even sure what that means.
I have allowed my fear of being rejected to keep me from truly putting myself out there in vulnerability and authenticity. In the end, treating others with a Christ-like consistency of love and acceptance is vulnerable. The other person doesn’t have to respond to me in like manner. Jesus was giving His life for the sins of mankind, and He was being mocked, rejected, and abandoned as He did so. The very ones He had come to save had run away or stood in front of Him, demanding He prove Himself and come down off the cross. What does it take for someone to consistenly love another, no matter how they are treated in return? How did (and does) Jesus consistenly love us fickle people?
I am convinced that Jesus knew in the depths of His soul that He was accepted by His Father. He knew that He knew that He knew God loved Him and it didn’t matter what people said, thought, or did, that love would never change. In that knowing, that security, Jesus was able to consistently love. He was able to stay on that cross in the midst of the taunting. He was able to resist the temptation to “prove” His Sonship.
This is the key to truly loving others. I want to truly, genuinely love all people, but to do so, I must become truly secure and fully convinced of my acceptance in Christ. It must become an irrefutable fact in the deepest part of my soul.
I am accepted. I am loved. Always.
When we become convinced of this fact, we find the freedom to truly be ourselves in all circumstances, in every room, at every party. We can laugh loud, be introverted, speak what needs to be said, do the silly stuff. It’s in this place of acceptance that we find the freedom to be our unique, creative selves. This acceptance from the Father is not earned, it’s not something to seek after. It’s here, now. You have acceptance from God the Father right where you are, with your flaws and imperfections, sins, titles, accolades, accomplishments, or lack thereof. The love of God is consistent. His love doesn’t change with where you are or have been. It doesn’t depend on the title before your name or even whether or not you read your Bible today. He accepts you and loves you just as you are!
When we discover this truth, it is not a motivation to stay where we are, but it is the motivation to seek after God more. It draws us into His presence and pushes us to love better, to have grace for others right where they are. Because “love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)