12.28.2006

Whose Approval

There are many ways we Christians demonstrate to those around us what
we believe and in whom we believe. The old song tells us that
"they'll know we are Christians by our love." Certainly our choice of
career gives the world some indication of our priorities. Avoiding
vices like premarital sex or excessive drinking is another
differentiator. But I know a lot of non-Christian folk who are
equally if not more loving, sacrificial in their careers, and moral
than most Christians.

I wonder if another, powerful differentiator and pointer to the One in
whom we trust is the way we carry ourselves in terms of whose approval
we are ultimately seeking. Diva athletes and insecure high schoolers
do not have a monopoly on desperately seeking approval. It is
inherent to our human natures to desire to be accepted. It is easy as
humans to get down on ourselves when we are scorned, to get high on
ourselves when we are adored, and to fundamentally change our behavior
to minimize the scorning and maximize the adoring - even if that
behavior isn't true to who we are or what we believe to be right.

We Christians are no less guilty of such self-manipulating. We seek
power and security in the religious and social structures we've set
up. We spiritualize some vocations and attributes over others. And
despite our basic belief that God loves and accepts us, we fall
woefully short in loving and accepting ourselves and others.

What if, instead, we were deeply rooted in God's love for us, and in
our understanding that while we were yet unredeemable sinners, He made
a way to return us to right relationship with Him without compromising
His just and perfect nature? Would we not become better friends and
spouses and parents and children and bosses and employees, freed by an
unshakable security from having to coax that security we so desire
from other finite and fickle humans? Would we not be free to do great
works and bask not in our greatness but in a greater greatness? Would
we not be free to take risks, no longer afraid of failure since
failure does not shake our sense of self-worth? And would not such an
approach to life bring pleasure to our God and persuasively compel
others to desire a similar source of security and strength?

Consider this a New Year's resolution of mine, and perhaps yours, too.
Let us who walk with Jesus and believe in His lordship live
accordingly, in terms of how we view ourselves in success and failure,
and whose approval we are ultimately seeking.

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