Monday, May 19, 2008

Accepting Our Humanity

I have to admit that my flesh isn't a very pretty thing to behold. It's impatient, short-tempered, selfish, covetous and fearful. I could probably think of a few more things to add to the list if I took some time. My wife could probably come up with a sizable list without having to strain too hard.

Isn't the grace and mercy of God such an awesome thing that Jesus would stoop down and drag such a filthy thing as myself out of the mud and wash me white as snow. He accepted me and adopted me as His son just the way I was. I didn't have to clean myself all...not one speck of mud did I have to scrape off for Him to accept me and to receive me as His own.

Now that I am His child am I to think that this same God now somehow doesn't accept me when I act like I did before my adoption? Does He withhold the grace and mercy from His children that he freely gives to those who don't yet know Him? If you're His child I hope you can answer NO to both questions. Yet, isn't that how many of His children live their lives? In fear and depression because they believe that God doesn't accept them just the way they are...warts and all.

Now don't get the idea that I am saying that sin is OK or that sin is acceptable to God. I am also not saying that Father will not work in our lives to turn us away from the things in our life that will harm us and others (sin). He loves us too much to let us play with matches around a gas can. I think Dan Stone said it better in his book, "The Rest of the Gospel"

Every one of us has something about our humanity-our personality, or for some of us our body-that we wish God would change so that we'd look better for Him, at least from our perspective. We think, "God, if you'd just take that thing away, I'd look better for You." That "thing" may be with us until they plant us six feet under.

We come to a place where we say, "Lord, even though that thing is still in my humanity, I'm going to praise You for it." You know what I discovered? The minute I started praising God for my impatience, I didn't see it anymore. I don't mean it disappeared, but I didn't have a fixation on it. I wasn't anxious about it any longer. That's the way God moves on in us, when we accept ourselves as He does.

I'm not advocating sin, by any means. I am saying that when we shift our focus from ourselves-some neutral aspect of our personality that we don't like, or, yes, even some flesh pattern that keeps recurring-and instead focus on Christ in us, God does His work in us. We are transformed into His image as we behold Him, not as we behold ourselves (2 Corinthians 3: 18).

God takes those things that are fixations in us when we're flesh-oriented and turns them into blessings when we're spirit-oriented. What I despised became a blessing in somebody else's life. Those things become the years the locusts ate that God restores, the dung that God makes into a compost pile. He lets it sit there until it's done a work in us. Then we can take our humanity back and say, "It's perfect to God right now. If He wants to do any altering of it, He is at work in me to will and do of His good pleasure. If He wants to change it, He who began a good work in me will bring it to pass. He can finish what He started."

I'm not going to take my humanity back on my own terms. I don't want it back that way. It took me long enough to get rid of it-as the source of my life. When you see it's no longer the starting point of your life, but rather the means by which God's life is manifested, you can take it back. You can accept yourself as you are. You can accept yourself as God's asset.

Finally we are able to say, "Lord, through my family tree and all of the circumstances I've come through, You've made the outer person that I am. You live in that person, and you set that person in the world in a way that's going to attract some people to You. I'm not going to attract everybody. The ones You don't attract through me, You'll catch through someone else."

We don't have to be anybody else; we don't have to submit to anyone trying to make us like anybody else, either. We are free to be ourselves. God is pleased to manifest His beautiful variety of expression through each of us in our uniqueness.

1 comment:

Aida said...

Gary, great post! It's so freeing and it wonderfully expresses the Father's heart of love for us. I love how Steve McVey puts it. We didn't do anything to get Him to love us and we can't do anything to get Him to stop loving us.

Like you, I'm learning to accept my humanity. I will sin. That's a given but I'm seeing that Father is not turned off by those sins. He will even work through them when I keep my eyes on him rather that on my sins or on my imperfection.