Acceptance in Christ- Romans 15:7

We have seen that humans are created with the need for acceptance, for a sense of worth, competence and belonging. In Christ these needs have been provided for, and we are now able to satisfy these needs in Him, rather than finding them in other things. We will look at the example of Paul in order to better understand how this takes place in our lives, and to learn to do as he did. We will turn to Philippians 3 for Paul’s own desription of this. Here we find Paul, before salvation, finding worth, competence and belonging in his own ability to keep the law, in his own performance. In verse 5, Paul refers to himself as a “Hebrew of Hebrews”. What he is referring to here is his ability to keep the law better than any other Hebrew. He possessed a tremendous sense of self worth and based that on his ability to keep the law better than anyone else. In verse 6, we find Paul’s sense of competence, for he was “faultless concerning the law”. He saw himself as totally competent to keep the law, again basing his sense of competence on his ability to perform. In verse 5, we find his sense of belonging, for he was a Pharisee, a member of the strictest sect in Judaism, not only keping the written law but adding many more laws of their own. He belonged to the most elite group in his religion, and also based his sense of belonging on his ability to perform. Before his conversion, Paul rooted his acceptance on the shifting sands of his own ability to perform. We then move, in Philippians 3, to verse 12, where we find Paul describing himself after conversion. Here we find he has not “already been made perfect”. The word perfect here is teleos, and refers to perfection in terms of completeness, not flawlessness. The form of the verb here is in the perfect passive indcative, Paul has been made complete by someone else in the past and now is in a state of “completeness”. His sense of worth is now based in what he has been made in and by Christ, and is no longer based in his ability to perform, but in his acceptànce in Christ. We find his new sense of competence in verse 14, in which he presses on “toward the goal unto the prize for which God has called him”. He now is completely able to fulfill his purpose and achieve his goal because of what Christ has done for him, and he is confident that he is competent to do what is needed to win the prize, not based in his own ability to perform but on who he is in Christ. His sense of belonging is found in verse 12, in which he tells us that Christ “took hold” of him. Christ has taken hold of him, he now belongs to Christ, who took hold of him in the past and has hold of him in the present. His sense of belonging is now settled in who he is in Christ, and becuase of this he no longer seeks to find it in anyone or anything else. So we see from the example of Paul, how grounding our acceptance in Christ is grounding it not on the shifting sands of our own ability to perform, which can vary and deteriorate over time. It is grounding our acceptance in Christ, finding our sense of worth, competence and belonging in the only firm, secure and permanent source for all three, and no longer looking to find them in other people or our own ability to perform. May we learn to follow Paul’s example and rest in the acceptance we have in Christ, confident that He will enable all of us to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

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