In the previous post I shared a big picture view of how I see human sexuality. In this post I want to address the issue of acceptance that is so closely related to the way that people talk about human sexuality in our culture.
There is quite a diversity of belief from those who wear the name “Christian.” Some Christians consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ community and feel little to no conflict about their sexuality and faith fitting together harmoniously. Some Christians do not consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ community but fully support the lifestyle of those who do. The other end of the spectrum are those who are despise the LGBTQ community. I realize there are MANY other types of Christians on this spectrum, so if I did not voice your view, please offer grace, and offer your view if you’d like.
So to me, the extremes of the spectrum look like this concerning human sexual expression and acceptance. One end shouts “I do not have to change because Jesus loves and accepts me!” The other end shouts “You must change so that God will accept you!”
I believe the longing for acceptance is deeply knitted into the human heart. We all long for that safe place where we can come with no pretense, no mask, no TRYING, and be warmly welcomed and genuinely enjoyed. This is knitted into the human heart by God, who longs even more intensely that we would find this safe place in God. (Acts 17:26-27)
The tension in dialogue about human sexual expression is the insistence of the words “acceptance” and “agreement” meaning the same thing. To “accept” a person’s choice of sexual expression is to “agree” with it and vice versa. I honestly wish there was another word to use in place of “acceptance” to describe the way that God so graciously and genuinely welcomes every person into His presence. (People who know more words than me, what is it?)
In my experience with the Good Shepherd, I have been so thoroughly welcomed by Jesus. I have had encounters with Him where the expression in His eyes and the way He touches me communicate nothing less than full acceptance, that I am welcome to come to Him, to be with Him anytime, whatever the state of my mind and heart. I remember one time in particular when I had a bad attitude towards a friend. I was aware of this and was thoroughly NOT enjoying feeling grumpy with them. I came to Jesus but was really trying in my own effort to change my attitude toward this person. “I’ll read my Bible… I’ll declare the truth!…I’ll make an exchange at the cross…I’ll worship!” And none of those tools worked for this particular situation. I was still grumpy and grumpy at myself for being grumpy. I literally gave up, laid on the floor and said to Jesus out loud, “Okay then, what do YOU want to do?” In an instant I “saw” a simple picture, Jesus and I together at the start of a forest trail. He didn’t say anything verbally but his kind eyes and outstretched hand communicated, “Come for a walk with me? I just want to be with you.” Tears started flowing and all the frustration melted away as I agreed and just let myself be enjoyed by Him on our forest walk.
I came to Him wanting Him to change my attitude. He just wanted to be with me, to draw me in to His presence, to let me feel His acceptance of me…and it transformed me. The change, the transformation, the alignment came through drawing near, being accepted and loved. Anger and frustration fell away in that moment and I saw that the reason my heart was grumpy in the first place is because a part of me was feeling unloved, unacceptable, insecure.
The higher, prevailing reality that is not anywhere on the spectrum mentioned above is this:
THE LOVE OF GOD TRANSFORMS
His “agenda” for humanity is not to change us for the sake of moral righteousness. (But let us not think that we will not or should not experience change from being in His Presence.)
His agenda for humanity is to conquer every square inch of the human heart with intention, zeal, and a depth of compassion unimaginable, incomprehensible to the mind. He does this for the sake of connection with us. To be with us, hand in hand, like those long ago days in the garden during the cool of the day.
Like the most beautiful and perfect Mother, God brings us in that we would be loved and be secure- that we would RECEIVE love. And like the most skilled and sensitive Father, God strengthens us and whispers our destiny deep in our heart that we would know how to GIVE love and GIVE the good gift of ourself to the world around us.
In order to be fully mature, fully human, fully alive, we yield to a lifetime of being mothered and fathered by God. Part of why the issue of “acceptance” is a sensitive spot in our culture is due to an intense hunger and longing to be mothered, to feel in our hearts the reality of being unconditionally welcomed and adored. We also desperately need fathering, to be called up and out of ourselves, to be confident that we have what it takes to make a positive contribution.
We find that the most repeated promise in Scripture comes from God’s mother’s heart…”Do not be afraid, I am with you, I will never leave you or forsake you.” In this promise He is saying, “There is nothing you can do to chase me away from you. I am not embarrassed or repulsed by you, ever. You are ALWAYS welcome to come to me. YOU ARE ACCEPTED!”
We find also the Father’s words over Jesus that have now become the Father’s words over us through the blood of Jesus…”You are my son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased!” He is saying, “You are royalty. You carry the authority and legitimacy of my household and Name. Go out, walk in a manner that reflects this reality. My affection for you assures your success!”
We are accepted, truly.
Receiving the acceptance of Jesus brings alignment with the realities of His Kingdom, inevitably.