Wanting to want…
By Claire Scott, 21st October 2020
We all want to be wanted. God, our Trinitarian, always- in- relationship- God, has created us in His image as social beings who need to be in relationship, first and foremost with our Creator but also with one another.
When seeking out relationships we often tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us, or we naturally ‘click’ with. Maybe those who sound the same, look the same, are at the same life stage, support the same sports team or have a similar outlook to life as us. Even though we’re all unique and have personal querks and differences, we find comfort in familiarity – we can understand or appreciate something about another individual because we share something with them.
So what happens with all the other ones? The people who we don’t get, who sound different to us, make different life choices, who just outright rub us up the wrong way or, worse still, are unkind or “bad” towards us? They are much harder to accept, to include, because there’s going to be a cost on our part, of stepping out of our comfort zone and onto someone else’s turf. So why should we bother with the difficulty of accepting and building relationship with others?
When we look at Jesus, we see that He accepted EVERYONE – and so must we. Everyone who Jesus spent His life with was different to Him; He was God incarnate and yet He gave up the rights of Heaven to come and live on Earth (Philippians 2:6). More outrageous still was that He gave His life for bog-standard fishermen, prostitutes, tax-collectors and thieves, who believed that He was who He said He was and followed Him. And the final and most outrageous acceptance is displayed at the cross as Jesus died for people who spat in his face, mocked him and killed him, yet still he said ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing (Luke 23:24). If Jesus accepts everyone, and we follow Jesus, then so must we. In doing this we are actively putting on our faith shoes and living out an active response to the command in Romans 15:7 ‘accept one another as Christ accepted you’.
The scale of acceptance is wide depending on where the two individuals sit. At one end it might practically look like asking God to give you a love for the people in your neighbourhood, whatever their age or background or choosing to sit with a different group of people at church, even if it feels awkward at first. It might look like inviting someone from church into your home, even if you don’t know them very well yet or pursuing friendship with another even if you find them different to you. In this, we are actively choosing another, choosing acceptance and choosing to learn, be blessed by and invest in others.
On the other end of the scale it might look like asking the Holy Spirit to help you forgive someone and welcome them into friendship with you, even when they have hurt or wronged you in some way. Colossians 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” This level of acceptance has another companion who he goes hand in hand with – forgiveness. It is more expensive than the cost of short-term awkwardness or time that is taken out of my day. The cost of this is choosing to not hold onto the unforgiveness, or sin that has been committed against you and giving this to Jesus in exchange for his forgiveness and life. This is huge and yet enormously life giving, it is freeing! This may need to be done through the support of professional services or through good accountability and a few strong cuppas with a trustworthy friend. Either way, do it with others.
We don’t have to pretend that we’re all the same, we’re not, and yet there is beauty in this. We are all equal, all under God’s Grace and therefore can all be accepting of one another just as God accepts us. And the result of acceptance is praise to the Father, which after all, is what we were made for in the first place.