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Feeling accepted by God

For the longest time, through my 20’s and most of my 30’s, I allowed myself the luxury of judgmentalism. Classifying people who thought differently than I did made my life more orderly and made me feel better about myself. Then in 1991, I had a personal train wreck and everything changed. …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

For the longest time, through my 20’s and most of my 30’s, I allowed myself the luxury of judgmentalism.

Classifying people who thought differently than I did made my life more orderly and made me feel better about myself. Then in 1991, I had a personal train wreck and everything changed.  The consequences of sin became searingly real.  I was in a bad place and without grace, my life would have come unglued.  The paradox is that as I became more deeply aware of my own need for grace, something inside me switched and I became better at extending it to others. All of a sudden, I was down at their level and had no moral ground on which to stand and issue criticisms of others.

What a relief to have gone through that season and to not struggle as I did before.   As a result of that experience, I’ve concluded that judgmental people at some level struggle to really believe that God likes them, that they are in fact OK.  Unsure of their own acceptability, they operate according to a perverse logic that says, “if I tear others down, then I’ve improved my own position relative to them.”

So here’s the crux of the issue: To become all God intended us to
be, we need to grasp that, in God’s eyes, we’re OK. Nothing we can do will
improve upon what he has done thru Christ.
Once we get to that safe place, then we’re qualified to join him in his
reclamation effort.

This quote from Nouwen says it
well: “As long as we
are not fully convinced that we have been reconciled with God,
that we are forgiven, we continue to create divisions among people
because we expect from them a healing power they do not possess. Only when we fully trust that we belong to God and can find in our relationship
with God all that we need, can we be truly
free and be ministers of reconciliation. This is not easy; we
readily fall back into self-doubt and self-rejection. We need to be constantly
reminded that
we are indeed reconciled.”

To the degree that we accept that
through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers
of reconciliation for others. To be one who reconciles, you have to be able to
join others where they live. If they
smell judgment in you, you are disqualified. It’s empathy that qualifies us to
minister reconciliation. Empathy renders
us safe.

Jesus says it best: “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not
judge; … do not condemn; … forgive” (Luke 6:36-37).

In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, not
judging may seem impossible. But a profound encounter with your own sin and a
recognition of your own need for grace can break even the most hardened
judgmental spirit.

Comments (8)

  • So, so true. I have experienced several train wrecks in my lifetime. It has pretty much wiped judgementalism right out of my heart and reduced me to throwing myself upon His mercy and grace. Sometimes I hate not having everything all figured out the way I used to. What amazes me most is the way He’s using me in spite of myself.

  • Your article is on target and helpful. I have been worrying and struggling for months about an inability to witness (with heartfelt sincerity) for the Lord. I am pretty sure that I have been born again and I know I believe, so I wasn’t sure why when it came to witnessing, I could not relate to another (in sincerity)about anything in the way of forgivenss for my past sins, even though I had confessed and repented of them. As far back as I can recall, there has never been a trueand lasting sense of being totally forgiven and accepted by God. My relationship to the Lord has been built around my perceived “goodness” and other’s “short comings”. This judgementalism has served as a way of making myself feel better/ok, or acceptable to Him; just like your article mentions. So it also serves to follow that one cannot offer to another what he himself does not have. Without the knowledge or sense of being accepted or totally reconciled to God; one cannot hope to reconcile another.

  • Stephen N’dorbor

    I have been wondering about God’s Love toward me and why He accepted just as I am,I ready need a deeper meaning.

  • I grew up with a Mom who constanly made me feel rejected. I have forgiven her and know that it is only because she hurts herself. But the biggest thing I have have learned is that if we don’t just believe and understand that he will never reject us and that we are accepted and forgiven, than we will never have peace and never be able to do anything for the Lord. I have always sensed that the Lord was going to lead me to be a missonary someday, and today he spoke so clearly to me that he would never ask me to do anything for him until I learned to walk in his love and accept his grace. You know, I get up everyday read and spend time with Him, but yet I walk around believing that lie from Satan that he is my enemy and that he is really against me. And I know that it is only fear and deception because I know I am totally accepted by Him.

  • Jennie,

    That’s such a hard thing to recover from. Your courage inspires me. I’m betting on you to follow God’s call and become the missionary he sees you as.

  • I am there… The ‘used to’ is a phrase I repeat often. I can’t stand how addicted I am to the idea that I ever ‘ used to’ have it all figured out. But truly He loves us and lives to use our weaknesses in spite of our pride to help ourselves and other ppl.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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