When I conduct an Exchanged Life Conference I usually ask the audience, “How many of you felt like you were not the favorite sibling when growing up; you knew in your heart that you were loved, but you were definitely not the favorite?”
As you can imagine, a majority of hands would go up. It’s not uncommon for many people to feel some sort of rejection while growing up. Granted, some of the rejection was real and some of it was perceived, but regardless of whether it was real or perceived, it felt real. It reminds me of an old saying that, “Children are the best recorders of information but the worst interpreters.”
All of us were born with a natural, God-given desire to feel significant and accepted. You see that need very early in life as an infant. Many times an infant will be crying and there is no evidence of hunger, pain or discomfort. But the moment you pick them up and cuddle them, they immediately stop crying. That’s their signal they are looking for little security and acceptance.
As a child gets older they begin to develop how they fulfill a sense of acceptance. As a young child, a sense of acceptance may come in the form of mimicking their friend’s behavior, or desiring the latest fashion trend. Later as a teenager, it’s who you hang with, what you wear, or what music you listen to may be a defining measure of acceptance.
The need for acceptance and significance doesn’t end with adolescence. As an adult, this need for acceptance usually increases. If as a child you never felt fully accepted, the intensity to fulfill this unmet need often increases when you reach adulthood. A good example of this is when an adult changes behavior just to be accepted by a person or group.
Over the years I have counseled many adults who have gone through years of conflict with an adult parent. Through a divorce of their parents during childhood, they developed a sense of rejection and carry this rejection into adulthood. Somehow they related their parent’s separation as personal rejection.
Everyone, regardless of age or circumstances in life, has experienced some degree of rejection. Rejection always brings a sense of loss of acceptance and significance. This is a normal feeling, but it becomes a problem when we attempt to obtain this lost acceptance in the wrong way.
What do I mean by obtaining acceptance in the wrong way? God created man to get his acceptance, worth and security from Him. When we become a follower of Jesus we are spiritually and emotionally re- wired to get our acceptance, worth and security from who we have become in Christ. Colossians 2 makes this point very clear, “In Him we have been made complete…” If you think about it for a moment, God had a brilliant plan. What we could not do ourselves, (develop our own system of acceptance), God did for us in Christ.
God knew that when we try to fulfill our need for acceptance, worth and security from our parents, or from our job or from our natural talent or ability, we would always fall short. So He provided, through Christ in us, the ultimate acceptance, God’s full acceptance, 24/7.
He places us in Christ and then places Christ in us. (John 17:22-23). Did you get that? We are in Christ, so wherever He is we are. Christ is placed in us, so wherever we are He is. We are never separated from Him. Therefore, God always accepts us regardless of our performance, because we are in Christ. If God rejected us He would be also rejecting the Christ in us. He would never reject His Son.
We are now in a divine union with God through Christ Jesus that is in us. That is why we can say, “…even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:5-6)
We can never earn God’s acceptance. His acceptance of us is determined by the judicial act of the Cross, whereby God allowed us to be made righteous through Christ blood that was shed for us. Jesus died for us and as us in order for us to be able to receive the righteousness of God. It’s a gift. (Ephesians 2:13-22)
So if you are still trying to get your parents, or your mates, or your coworkers or any other person’s acceptance, then stop right now and let go of that expectation and receive God’s free gift of full acceptance. Any acceptance that you can earn from men pales in comparison to God’s unconditional acceptance.
When God sent Jesus to redeem us, the redemption was a complete redemption. He redeemed us from our helpless sinful nature and then He placed us in Christ, and gave us a new nature. With that new nature (Christ’s life), we have a new source of worth, acceptance and significance.
Bottom Line: God’s intention for us is to get our acceptance in Christ. He has actually delivered us from the need to gain acceptance. We no longer have to strive to measure up to someone’s standard for acceptance. We have the Father’s love, acceptance and security simply by being in Christ.
He fulfills that longing for acceptance in our heart by giving us the ultimate acceptance and security. To be found “in Christ” is our ability to enjoy an acceptance that personal achievement and secular popularity could never give. “Inherent in who we are is our ability to perform it.”(Jack Taylor)
So during this Christmas season, if you sense rejection from someone significant, let it go. Stop trying to understand your rejection or stop trying to measure up to a standard that God does not even put on you. Just remember that Christ in you makes you accepted by God. Receive his acceptance as enough. You are complete in Him. So therefore, walk in Him and be overwhelmed by His love and unconditional acceptance.
“…As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” ( Colossians 2:6)