It doesn't take very long, as we walk along our life journey from day one, before something happens that results in the opposite experience for us: rejection. And we are wounded. For some of us, the wounds are very, very deep. For all of us, not being accepted in one way or another distorts how we feel about ourselves. We get the message that we are not worth being accepted. And a shadow begins to fall over our life.
The most damaging result of our experiences of rejection is that we begin to assume God assesses our worth in the same way - "conditionally." But that is a very wrong assumption. Our value to God is in no way conditional. You are not accepted by Him because you prove you're valuable. You are of immeasurable worth to Him simply because you are, not because you can do anything, or be "good enough." Each of us is loved by God for who we are, a unique and special individual. His love for us is unconditional! This is the "other" message, from a higher source, that alone will quench our insatiable inner hunger.
What a risk God took by putting us into a world where it is fallible human beings who would be giving us the message of our significance! How confusing, broken, and tragic the messages can be - either because of the inability or the sin of the "messengers." Even the very best of parents can inadvertently start us down the wrong track of getting a distorted message. Our natural tendency is to believe the lie that we must gain security by something we can do. We work to earn a counterfeit acceptance - by our performance - a painfully illusive goal. Our true need is for acceptance simply for who we are - because we are - not for what we do. How greatly God desires for each of us to come to know the truth of His unconditional love for us!
Our inner beliefs are the foundation of our lives. Our enemy, Satan, wants to undermine our belief that we could be loved just for who we are, and he desires to keep us hopelessly bound in a never-ending struggle to earn acceptance! Of course our heavenly Father's will for us is that we would want to do what is right and would try our best, but He also wants us to know that, whatever the results of our efforts, we are still totally accepted and secure in His unchangeable love. When we believe the enemy's lie of conditional acceptance, we come under the power he wields through fear. We are driven to strive to do what others require of us, and we come up with elaborate schemes to protect ourselves from rejection; and yet, our false beliefs doom us to the emotional pressure of facing our inevitable failures to measure up, to become "good enough." Feelings of worthlessness only feed our sense of rejection. And Satan delights in our bondage.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). The truth is that the rejection that has infected the entire human race actually resulted in the garden of Eden when man rejected God. That is the root of the disease. What, oh, what, is the cure?
What is God's answer to the problem of the Fall, to the breaking off of the knowledge of the possibility of relationships of unconditional acceptance? Jesus is the answer. Jesus, the Son of God, went to the Cross to make a way for man back to God. The poison of rejection brought into us by mankind's rejection of God was laid upon Jesus at Calvary, and as He shouted out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" it was because the great exchange was taking place. How unbearable that must have been to the Father's heart, and yet even before the foundation of the world both the Father and the Son were willing for that. Jesus went through the incalculable darkness and despair of separation from His Father so that you and I would not have to. He bore the sin of our rejection of God - and our rejection of each other - so that we might choose a lifestyle of acceptance, and a life of abundant joy in place of our impoverished, joyless life of rejection. And Jesus experienced all the pain of our wounds of rejection, so that in coming to Him we could receive comfort and healing - release from every trace of rejection that the Fall brought.
With which message will you agree?