When the world around me judges me for who I am – or what I’m not – I am so thankful for Jesus. When voices clamour – well-meaning or outrightly hostile; and every shade and intonation in between – I am so thankful for Jesus.
I am so thankful that my God knew me before the world was created, that he knitted me together in my mother’s womb with intricate love and care. I am so thankful that he came to earth and lived a fully human life, so that he could know and share in what it meant to live here, in this imperfect world with imperfect people and model what it means to live a life worth living in the midst of all of that chaos and pain. I am so thankful that he died and came back to life in order to conquer death and sin and once again make possible what God created in the beginning; perfect, harmonious relationships, with Him and with one another.
And I am so thankful that none of the above is variable. Ever. That our God ‘does not change like the shifting shadows’ (James 1:17). I am so thankful that it does not depend on my mood, my acceptance of Him, nor my marital status, my job, my gender or my race (insert your own criteria here).
I am so thankful that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28).
There is neither poor nor rich. Neither banker or housewife. Neither black nor white. Neither British nor Polish. Neither married nor single. Neither tea maker nor worship leader.
There is neither football nor rugby. Neither Blues nor Reds. Neither politician nor proletariat. Neither child nor adult. Neither leader nor follower.
For all are one in Christ Jesus.
The gift of grace is that we are all saved, even though we are all imperfect. That Jesus Christ died so that we might all have access to his kingdom, to a relationship with him, to a life filled with His love and joy and peace and hope.
Sometimes, I forget the simplicity of this amazingly straightforward gift; that Jesus loves me as I am, all the time. Other people’s words hurt. I get stuck and overwhelmed in seeking approval or avoiding confrontation or gaining knowledge. I am tossed around on seas of uncertainty when I forget that my value does not depend on my marital status, my job, my level of education, gender or experience. My security comes from knowing who I am in Jesus, and how much he loves and values me. He is the author and perfector of my faith, and works out all things for the good of those who love him.
And so as we, in turn, work out our faith, with fear and trembling and the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us, let’s try to do the same for each other. Not to judge or categorise, exclude or limit, but to welcome and embrace, champion and exhort. Just as Jesus does for us.