One of the gospel’s most thrilling, life-giving, notes is that in Jesus I have all the acceptance I long for. The gospel rescues us from the fear of being rejected.
That fear looms large in all of us, though some have become quite sophisticated in trying to suppress and silence it.
We think our lives will become meaningful and worth living if we can just get in the right relationships with the right people, especially those who can help us reach where we want to go and get what we want to obtain, wherever and whatever that is. It could be the right level of income, or entry into the right social strata, or the right career, or the right marriage. If we can’t make our dreams a reality, whatever they are, then life isn’t worth living. We seek to gain that acceptance especially through our appearance, or our achievements, or our performance.
In the movie Rocky, do you remember the scene on the night just before his big fight with Apollo Creed? Rocky knows he can’t beat Creed; he tells his girlfriend Adrian, “All I wanna do is go the distance” (something no other fighter has done with Creed). If Rocky can somehow stay standing the full fifteen rounds, then he’ll know for the first time in his life that he isn’t “just another bum from the neighborhood.”
In my moments of gospel-disbelieving self-centeredness, there are certain things I look to so I’ll know I’m not just another bum. That’s when I have to be reminded of the truth: If you embrace what Christ has done on the cross for sinners, you’re in.
In fact, all of our desires for acceptance are really just pointers to what we really long for. They point to the one place, the one person, where we find real acceptance that can be experienced forever.
If you’re a Christian, you’re forever, unchangeably accepted by God, the only one who matters. When we grasp this, we realize that all those other things where we’ve searched for acceptance ultimately don’t matter. They were never intended to be our saviors, our source of significance. They’re too limited. All gods but God are too small.
No one can save us like Jesus can, yet we all look elsewhere for our functional saviors. We all do that, even those of us who say, “I believe Jesus is my Savior.” We embrace that truth intellectually, but there are so many other things we look to daily, weekly, and monthly to provide us with the rescue, the meaning, the significance, and the acceptance we all long for.
Daily rescue happens as we continually reorient ourselves to what Jesus has done for us. When we remind ourselves that Jesus came to reconcile sinners to God, and that as a result we now possess all the acceptance we need, it frees us from our slavery. It frees us from our idols. We no longer have to depend on those small things that will never be able to rescue us the way we long to be rescued. We become free of self-reliance and self-dependence.
Tell me this isn’t good news–gospel?