Have you ever felt excluded from an event or group because you did not meet someone else’s standards? Imagine experiencing rejection because other people didn’t think you were “good enough.” According to social scientists, inherent in the process of growing and developing as a person to achieve individual potential is our need to be accepted for who we are. Nevertheless, it seems parts of the media have done and continue to do a masterful job of making some people feel personally inadequate. Advertisers tell us we are too fat or too slim; we need to buy this or that to get the desired look and become more attractive. For some people, it is pressure from their families, friends, and, most regrettably, their spouses. It is as if we are encouraged to strive for something that is always out of our reach. And some of us have spent hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars trying.
These thoughts came to mind as I reflected on Romans 5:8, where Paul highlights God’s love towards us, as He sacrificed His Son for us while we were still sinners. Paraphrased in The Message, the verse reads, “But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.” This act of love is a testament to God’s acceptance of us as a people worth saving. We were born as sinners (Psalm 51:5), enemies of God, and therefore, from the beginning, were not “good enough.” Yet God, because of His great love, looked beyond our sins, our faults, our imperfections, and our weaknesses and saw something in us that He deemed valuable. It is easy to gloss over this wonderful truth. He had warm thoughts towards us, covered as we were in the ugliness of sin. He demonstrated His love and acceptance by giving His only begotten Son, Jesus, who saved us from eternal damnation through His death on the cross (John 3:16–17).
It is important to note that God did not stipulate that for Him to love us, we first had to become “good enough.” We are loved and accepted unconditionally. As German theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich puts it, “Accept the fact that you are accepted.” God accepts us exactly as we are, even though we may struggle with our insecurities in our efforts to gain acceptance from those around us. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves should be based on this unshakeable truth and not on some secular media-driven standards. While we may not be able to meet and live up to the standards of others, we can rest comfortably in the fact that God loves and accepts us the way we are. He intends that we enter into a relationship with Him through Christ and allow Him to work out His plans and purposes in our lives. It is difficult to struggle with low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence when we embrace His love and acceptance. No matter who you are, what you have done, or what you look like, God loves you, and He has demonstrated that love for the whole world to see.
To be loved and accepted unconditionally feels wonderful, doesn’t it? Think about that the next time you look in the mirror.