“If God loves and accepts you as a sinner, how can you do less? You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to accept the reality of who you are. Only then can you truly become who you are most deeply called to be.” David G. Benner, THE GIFT OF BEING YOURSELF: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery,p.57.
"If God loves and accepts you as a sinner, how can you do less?"
God's love is unconditional but His acceptance is based on Christ's sacrificial death for my sins. Thankfully, God does not need me to beat myself up over my mistakes.
"You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to accept the reality of who you are."
Until I accept the reality of my own depravity (even if seems more theoretical at this point), I cannot fully grasp or appreciate how great and magnificent God's grace and mercy toward me truly is.
Former slave trader John Newton saw the depth of his own depravity and sin, and that is why he could write the hymn "Amazing Grace."
When I came to faith as a child, I thought that sin was about what one did or did not do. For example, lying or stealing is a sin. But now I realize that my sin is more about my attitude toward God. It is when I think (like Adam and Eve) that I can live apart from God.
I decide what is right and wrong. I am a god unto myself.
The external actions only reveal what is in the heart. God is always more interested in our hearts. Real change can only come from the inside-out.
"Only then can you truly become who you are most deeply called to be."
God calls us to Himself in love so that we can be transformed and learn to truly love others with His love.
The moment I prayed alone as an eight-year old to ask Jesus to come into my heart was a quiet one. I did not have a dramatic conversion like the apostle Paul, or friends who came to Christ as an adult.
But one thing I did notice was that when I read the Bible, it came alive. Before, I couldn't understand why Christians were always quoting the Bible. Suddenly, the words became personally meaningful to me.
Changing my thoughts and attitudes (and by extension my behavior) has been a decades-long process. I continue to learn to love like Jesus.
It has been about learning to appreciate God in all of His complexity and holiness.
It has also been about wanting to spend time with Him because I love Him, and not because it is on my to-do list.
It is learning to love and accept people because God does. It is about how I spend money, and choosing to use it to help others.
I am no St. Francis, but it is about living consciously with a view toward what God values and loves: people created in His image.
One of the key messages of Lynne Fox's book, Grappling with Your Identity: Clinging to the Rock, is that we are each created in God's image. She explores what that means for our identity/self-worth. God is spirit and so are we. Thus, if we build our identity based on external factors, such as power, possessions, achievements, and other people's affirmation, our identity/self-worth will always be fragile and shifting.
Another aspect of my journey with God has been to transform head-knowledge about my worth in God's eyes into heart-felt truths. It has been liberating as I experience more of His loving presence in the day-to-day moments of life.
I don't need to earn God's love. I just need to receive it, revel in it, and share it.
His love changes me from the inside out.
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