Pastor's Blog

by Pastor Robert Griffith

Pastor's Blog

by Pastor Robert Griffith

Acceptance and change

by | Nov 5, 2022

Colossians 2:13  “When you were DEAD in your sins … GOD MADE YOU ALIVE with Christ!”

This is the heart and soul of the entire New Testament. This is the foundation of our faith. This is the bedrock upon which all doctrine must be built. This is the window through which we must look to view all other Scriptures. This is the essence of God’s plan of salvation. This is what God’s love looks like up close and personal. God’s love is not just a feeling; not just an emotion; not just His affection toward us since the foundation of the world; it’s all those things but God’s love is also an action – it is effective – it is powerful – it achieves a purpose beyond itself – it is focussed on the transformation of the recipients.

Now we humans are pretty complex creatures. There’s a lot to sort out before we understand ourselves or others. However, when we drill down through all our differences and idiosyncrasies and the things that make us unique, we will find the same emotional and spiritual DNA. We are all the same when it comes to what we need and want more than anything else in the world. I want to tell you what that is today. In my humble opinion, there are two things which every human being wants and needs more than anything else on the periphery of their lives – just two and they form the title of this sermon. They are: acceptance and change.

We all want to be accepted as we are, don’t we? Those people in our lives who have truly loved us, the ones from whom we really have felt genuine love, will be the ones who accepted us as we truly are. They knew all our shortcomings and loved us anyway. That’s what we want. We don’t want to have to follow someone’s rules or fulfil someone’s expectations in order to be accepted. That’s why deep down we all hate religion – because that’s what religion does. If you are caught up in religion, then you know exactly what you have to do or have to be before you are accepted or honoured or considered worthy. But no matter how sincere and devoted you are within that religion, there is something deep within you which is crying out, “No! I don’t want to have to perform or conform or behave in a certain way in order to be loved and accepted by God or God’s people!”

Well guess what? That acceptance we long for; that unconditional, no-need-to-jump-through-any-religious-hoops acceptance we crave and need is given to us in the Gospel! We are 100% accepted by God regardless of anything we do or don’t do! Only the gospel, only the good news of God, in Christ can meet one of the most basic and important human needs: acceptance.

But you know we humans are a paradox. Whilst we desperately need to be accepted as we are and not expected to change in order to earn God’s love or the love of His people – deep down we actually don’t want to stay as we are! We are just as desperate in our need for change. We actually want to change. We want to grow. We want to mature but we don’t want to be forced to in order to earn the acceptance of others or of God.

Enter again: the life-changing good news – the Gospel in Christ! God accepts us totally as we are … but He loves us too much to leave us there! God’s love is not static. It is dynamic. It impacts us. It changes us. It leads us to repentance. It gives us life as God intended us to have – abundant life! This is what God is all about and this is what our Church should be all about. Acceptance and change. First and foremost, God has accepted us, in spite of us, regardless of our performance, our obedience, our devotion or our service. He has chosen us before the foundation of the world. Therefore, we have no right to beat ourselves up in guilt and shame and we have no right to reject others. We are called to accept each other in Christ because God accepts us in Christ. We don’t condone sinful behaviour in others, but we accept the sinner in the same way God accepts them – as they are – regardless of their lifestyle or their behaviour or their appearance.

Now here is the key to real Church growth – here is the essence of the Ministry of Christ – it is this genuine, unconditional, God-inspired acceptance of others – as they are – where they are – how they are, which will bring the power of God’s love into their lives and bring the transformation we desire to see in them; the change which they desire deep down but are just incapable of achieving without God’s love at work in their lives. God’s heart has been broken millions and millions and millions of times over hundreds of years now as He has watched the visible Church which bears the name of Christ effectively ask God’s chosen children to change, to repent, to be something they are not at present, before they can truly connect to the life of Jesus Christ in His Church or before they feel like they belong or are accepted as equals before God.

There are some churches which still do this deliberately and without apology. They believe their mission is to call people to repentance first and love them second and in so doing, they make it very clear what is moral and immoral; what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour; what lifestyle honours God and what dishonours God. Then there are countless other churches who don’t deliberately set out to put conditions and qualifying criteria on God’s love, but by default, we end up singing from the same hymn sheet and the world learns very quickly that the entry criteria for the Christian Church is very clear: You need to act a certain way, refrain from acting in other ways, and subscribe to a certain stated or implied code of conduct or belief system to fit in or be accepted or respected as a child of Almighty God.

Is it any wonder that we have Christian leaders all over the world scratching their heads wondering why the gospel is not bearing fruit as Paul promised it always would when we understand grace in all its truth? (Colossians 1:6). This ‘gospel’ is not bearing fruit because it’s not the gospel at all! It is a legalistic, demonically-inspired corruption of truth which is designed to cripple the Church and continually portray to the world a God who is anything but love!

Colossians 2:13  “When you were DEAD in your sins … GOD MADE YOU ALIVE with Christ!”

This is the Gospel. This is the Truth and nothing but the Truth and we need this Truth to impregnate, to saturate, to overwhelm us to the point where we are 100% sure and unquestionably clear that our God, Who is love, accepts us totally and unconditionally in Christ and always will and that it is that acceptance and unconditional love which births repentance and transformation and change in our lives.

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