Change and Acceptance

By Chris Hartenstein
We have all remarked about other people: "If only they did not do 'this' or if they would do 'that' then I would enjoy spending time with them". It seems like a harmless statement. Maybe sometimes it is, but often it sheds light on a deeper issue within ourselves. It reflects aspects of our belief system or how we operate with the world around us. It is the way we evaluate whether or not we are accepted, inevitably, driving why and how we try to change.

It is odd, but we have a horrible tendency to change to gain acceptance or out of insecurity. It could be for friends, employers, our spouse, a global pandemic, or even God. Often, we change because we fear losing something we think we cannot live without. It is also true that the change we put in place never sticks because it's for the wrong reasons. No matter how hard we try, we tend to "normalize" and move back into the old way of doing things.  

So what are the right reasons to change? How do we make change stick?

There is a place where Jesus offers us acceptance. His suffering, death, and resurrection make it possible for us to have NEW LIFE. Jesus brings us into His family as a son and daughter. This happens before anything in us has changed at all. We don't have to change to gain His acceptance. Yet, we do change - radically, from the inside out into a NEW CREATION.  

So, What is the difference?  

It is pretty simple, but hard to receive. When we are known and loved, we feel accepted and secure. This changes us and is what we are created for. It moves us in unexplainable ways, and we develop a willingness and deeper desire to change. We change not for acceptance, but to express our love and gratitude for what He did for us. We also realize the change He is making is in our best interest and his greater good (Romans 8).  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life to the full” (John 10:10). This is the kind of change that sticks. It is not us just "doing something," but the transformative love of Jesus getting a foothold in our lives. When we taste his love, we want more. Change is certainly still hard, but more welcomed than ever before when we realize that we are not doing it, He is doing it in us.  
  • Where have you continually experienced failure in trying to change something in your life? 
  • Be honest - what is motivating you to change?
  • Have you truly received that you are accepted even before you change? Why or why not?
  • What does that do for your heart and desire to change when you allow your heart to believe you are “known and loved” just as you are?
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