Babies, in general, learn to sit up on their own before they become mobile. As they master the skill of sitting, they learn an incredible amount about the world around them through observation and study. Soon they learn to crawl and walk, leaving a mother rarely with an opportunity to sit down after that. Life is now on the go!
As Christians, I believe God intended the same pattern for us as babes in Christ. Before we go and try to conquer Christianity, He invites us to sit down and take it all in. We have some foundational knowledge to learn before we become mobile with the gospel. My dad’s favorite phrase he uses when he wants to impart his fatherly wisdom comes to mind and causes me to grin: “Let me explain something to you.” Our heavenly Father uses the book of Ephesians to explain the fact that He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6).
“It is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet” (Prov. 19:2). It is a wonderful experience to begin your Christian walk knowing you were going to be accepted by God and be given every blessing possible before you were ever born, but there is still knowledge that needs to be gained before you take off running. As humans we cannot rely on ourselves to make us acceptable to God. Our acceptance is completely dependent upon Christ. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… and having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:8-9). Because of Christ’s death, we are reconciled to God and shall be saved by His life (v. 10). To elaborate, we are accepted because we have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).
As a teenager, I tried out for and was accepted onto a select soccer team. Because I was accepted, I had the right to be on the roster and play for that team. When we are accepted by God, we have the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Outside of Christ, we are strangers or foreigners and therefore do not have acceptance because His blood does not cleanse us. However, when we put on Christ in baptism, we become “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). We are, each of us, individual members who make up the body of Christ, that is the church (1 Cor. 12:27). In short, we become part of God’s team. It is with these brothers and sisters in Christ that we bear good fruit, whether it is from the instruction of the scriptures, as a result of the edification from others, or the service we bring to others. It is with these members that we glorify God while here on Earth, continuing even as we enter heaven and into everlasting life. With acceptance, God has “qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saint in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1: 12-14). Furthermore, once I joined the soccer team, I had access to the coach and his instruction. Through Jesus, we have access by one Spirit to God (Eph. 2:18). Without this, we could not have communion with God. God’s word gives us spiritual instruction and we also learn from the trials God allows in our lives.
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:9-10). This verse brings a myriad of messages to me. It brings me to my knees in humility to know that though I have my faults, I lack nothing for I am complete in Christ. The most powerful Being makes sure that I will not be found wanting when the balances are weighed. He knows, cares, and provides for me, just one grain in the sand on the shore. Moreover, this message gives me hope. Because of my sin, I feel unacceptable to receive this grace, but I can hold my chin up and embrace this gift He has bestowed. This message combined with verse 16’s “So let no one judge you…” gives me strength. No one’s judgment, including my own, can make me feel inferior and disclude me if I do not allow it. If God through Christ has forgiven all my trespasses, I must forgive myself and others must forgive me also and I them. I have been bought at a price and therefore belong to God (1 Cor. 6: 20). If God does not find me lacking, then it shouldn’t matter what others think or say. If I do believe God to find me lacking, then I must quickly repent and change my behavior. “Let no one cheat you of your reward…vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God” (Col. 2: 18-19). With this warning, I find courage and joy. I am accepted and my reward shall not be taken away by others. While we strive for spiritual wisdom and righteousness, others who are worldly, be it family, friends, coworkers, etc., will think us strange and might try to convince us against those things that are above. Yet we have the body of Christ to insure us growth.
Is there ever a time that we are not accepted by God? First, God gives anyone who believes in the name of the only begotten Son of God, and receives Him, the right to become children of God. Those who do not believe in Jesus are condemned. (John 1:12, 3:18). If we want to live with Christ for eternity in heaven, we must first die with Christ and to do that we must be buried with Him through baptism, that the body of sin might be done away with (Rom. 6:2-6). Paul went on to say, “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (v.12). It is not possible to remain free of sin even after baptism, but it should not rule us. When it happens, it needs to be dealt with swiftly. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Also, “the kingdom of God is… righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God” (Rom. 14:17-18). If you are not doing these, then you are not acceptable. In addition, there is a condition to being reconciled and above reproach “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” (Col. 1:21-23).
It is important to recognize that being spiritually acceptable might not gain you acceptance into certain social circles here on earth, but your reward is in heaven. If it were on earth it would pass away. Nothing can compare to eternity with our Creator and Savior in a home where pain, tears, sadness, and evil cannot exist. Guard your hearts and minds in Christ and allow no one to cheat you of your reward. The only person that can stop you from being acceptable to God is yourself, so allow God’s work in you to be complete. Once you have gained the knowledge of what God wants you to “sit down” for, you are ready for life on the go to spread the gospel and increase the kingdom.
Samantha and her family live and worship in Florence, SC.