Inclusion and Acceptance---By Cyndi
Almost every Saturday morning I pass by a fellow who exercises regularly like me. And it seems like to everyone he walks by he says, "How ya feeling this morning? Feeling good? Alright. It's gonna be a great day." He's truly is one of the most positive persons I've ever met, even though I haven't exactly ever "met" him. He carries with him an atmosphere of optimism, of joy and goodness. I don't know if he's a believer in Christ, but I suspect he is.
A feeling of acceptance and inclusion is what this man shares - a real living example of Father's love - and what occurs to me is that the only way he can spread this feeling around is by knowing it himself. I believe we can't give away something we don't have.
In order for us to make others feel accepted and included, we must feel that way ourselves. Just like trying to sell a product you don't believe in, buyers can see right through your pitch and know it's not good, or else you'd be using it too. This works through the principle of loving your neighbor as you love yourself (Matt.22:39). The foundation is first knowing you are loved and accepted unconditionally by Father God. When we understand this and can love ourselves - having mercy on our own faults, mistakes and failures - we can then, in turn, risk loving others with all their faults and problems.
This is the test. Are we able to risk loving? Are we able to hold our heart open? Are we able to give, knowing that we may be rejected, ignored, made fun of, or even despised in return? Many times our own pain keep us from opening up our hearts - we've been hurt before, so what makes us think this time will be any different? This insecurity only goes away when we fully receive His love and deal with our wounding.
Jesus was so secure in His Father's love that He could endure the ridicule, the humiliation, and the judgement of others, even to the point of never retaliating or defending Himself. He was grounded in love. He always walked in optimism and joy.
So when I pass my Saturday-morning encourager, cheering on and lifting up those around him, this fellow reminds me of Jesus. And I feel happier. I feel included in the human race and accepted to just be me. The atmosphere around me has been charged with kindness and I can't help but smile. Now it's my turn to share it. Am I secure enough to give it away?
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