Tuesday, June 29, 2021
I was an outsider. Yet despite the incredible grace shown to me to accept me as one of their own, I messed it up. My insecurities led me to believe that I could not be accepted for who I was. Unfortunately, the façade I wore put my acceptance in real danger. In fact, for many years, I believed the appearance of acceptance was their façade.
My wife and I just returned from a trip to North Dakota. We were there for three reasons. First, to see Denise’s ninety year old mother. She’s doing great. Second, to celebrate the 125th plus 1 anniversary of the only remaining city band in the entire state of North Dakota. They are phenomenal. The concerts they held were amazing. The whole town of 300 probably doubled in size as we celebrated. I even got to see my High School band director. Third, I was there for my 50th High School class reunion. After the initial shock of my age wore off, we had a fabulous time reminiscing.
As we sat around in a circle after the banquet, we read our senior class wills and prophecies. We wondered who wrote them. When I saw mine, I was embarrassed. I decided before I read it out loud, as everyone else was doing, I would address the gathering. I told them I had waited fifty years to share this with all of them. I expressed how much I appreciated the grace they had extended to me when they accepted me as a friend when I moved to their town in October of my senior year. Most of them had been classmates since Kindergarten. I was the outsider, but they gave me a chance to be one of them.
Then I apologized for not accepting their grace. I explained how my insecurities had created a façade based on my perceptions of what it would take to earn their acceptance. I didn’t believe I could ever fit in if I didn’t earn my way in, and all the things I did misrepresented who I really was. I confessed to them how wrong I had been.
Whether it meant anything to them or not after all these years, it was liberating for me. I was finally able to express what I had learned about grace and acceptance from Jesus Christ. He does not require anything from us, but freely grants acceptance based on our faith in who He is. My insecurities were actually a distrust in the character of my classmates in the same way that our belief that we must earn our acceptance by Jesus is a distrust of His grace. I was so very glad I could tell my classmates the truth that I have died to that belief, and the life I now live I live for Christ who gave His life for me.
That’s what the Apostle Paul told the Galatian believers “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:20-21
We are accepted by Christ because of who He is and what He did, not because of who we try to be and what we are able to do to earn acceptance. I was an outsider to Jesus too, but by grace He has accepted me.
If only I had known that in October of 1971.
But I know it now. I hope all my classmates do to.