Friday, November 15, 2013

We Are Beloved

Most every Tuesday night I participate in a chat on Twitter sponsored by a group called People of the Second Chance (Tweeps should follow @POTSC. or you can follow the conversation Tuesday nights at 10 EST at #POTSClive).  This group gathers to discuss questions of forgiveness and grace in our lives, and have been nicknamed the #Graceketeers. I love that title. For one hour each week I feel bathed in the grace of God as expressed through other sinful human beings struggling to see God in new ways, and it is a wonderful experience. This past week one of the questions posed by the moderator asked us which was harder- forgiving others or forgiving ourselves?  I immediately responded "myself" and so did quite a few others. It is so hard to let go of our own failures. We so often compare what we know about ourselves to what we don't know about others and come out feeling like second class citizens, even in the Kingdom of God. 

A few years ago I realized that beating myself up over past sins was a slap in the face to Jesus. He came- he DIED - so that my sins and yours would be forgiven and we would be bathed in grace. God loves us so much He sent Jesus  - and if that doesn't show us we are beloved then I don't know what does! But even as God welcomes us into His loving arms each day, we still often reject ourselves as unworthy of that love. Read these words from the great Henri Nouwen:

Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... [My dark side says,] I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” 

Even in all my years as a youth pastor I realize now that I was often trying to perform for God's love, instead of simply drowning in His grace. I once thought my life was defined by who I was and what I did. Now I know my life is defined by Jesus- by who HE was and what HE did. I am indeed beloved. And so are you...

Because of Jesus,

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