Being Open to Acceptance
A fundamental function of identity is creating a feeling of acceptance. Shame is our natural state apart from God, and we use identity to cover it up. A couple weeks ago I noted that we often try to use following the rules as a way to earn our acceptance from God.
If acceptance by God in Christ really does lead to God pleasing obedience, then how do we experience acceptance?
Intentionally making space for God in our lives. Returning His embrace rather than struggling against it.
As you draw near to God and allow Him to purify your desires – instead of just trying to suppress them though your own efforts – you will experience God’s love and acceptance.
It is all about openness. Communion. Staying connected. Developing intimacy with the Father.
Making space can be tough and definitely does not just happen. But in a culture that talks so freely about “wasting time”, we should not find it so difficult.
One of the ways we can build connection is practicing spiritual disciplines. These practices put us in touch with our dependence. Like exercise does for our body, disciplines do for our spirit.
Yet there is a subtle trap here. Often when we practice disciplines it is an effort to make ourselves acceptable. So, we enter into fasting, prayer, service, fellowship, etc. with determination and an agenda. Read this many pages of the Bible. Pray for this many minutes. Fast this many days a month. On and on we could go. That’s why we avoid solitude and silence, less control and less to show for our efforts.
Meeting standards misses the point. Rather than building connection, it exalts the self. Jesus’ point in Luke 18.
Entering into a discipline requires we focus on God, not on ourselves. Instead of reading the Bible for quantity, have you tried reading a verse or paragraph over and over, letting God speak it into your situation? Instead of just rushing into prayer requests, have you started your prayer with silence, being still and showing God you desire for Him to be present with you?
Have you found the practice or location that best connects you with God? If you have to think about it, the answer is likely no. When you find it, you will long for it.
For me it is walking while memorizing a scripture. While talking with a young woman last night, I asked when she most felt God’s presence, and she replied while dancing. Another friend of mine loves to fast.
It’s not to say we should limit ourselves, but it is good to find the thing that most opens us to God. Then do it. Don’t hold back. Rush into His presence. He’ll rush to meet you.
Then you will experience His acceptance. When you’ve tasted the closeness, He can begin to transform your desires. Then you can obey.
This is Jesus’ message in John 15. He instructs His disciples to remain in Him. Obedience is the fruit of remaining – of being open – of being centered in Christ. Read John 15. Count how many times He says to remain in Him. Seems vital.
What spiritual practice allows you to best connect with God?