ACCEPTANCE-everyone craves it, but where does it come from?

by Lucy Britten

Do you know what I find SO exciting about being a Christian? It's God's upside down rules about 'what's hot and what's not'! To a world that bases its worth on looks, money and fashion, the Kingdom Jesus is offering seems such an odd concept, but when we look into it more, it's the most incredible thing!!

V*enna have recently spent 2 weeks with hundreds of 8 - 11 year olds at Spring Harvest, and as we got to know these kids, their precious personalities and the things they have to battle with day by day, we were so relieved to be able to teach them about God's rules being so different. One of the biggest things kids and teenagers have to put up with these days is bullying and not quite fitting in. "You're too fat", "your hair's not the right colour", "you're stupid". Well, let me tell you something, if we have to be that perfect to be accepted into a certain gang then a) NO-ONE would get in, and b)would you want to be in that gang anyway?!

Think about someone who is 'perfect' in the worlds eyes, ok, Madonna. She's amazingly beautiful and talented, has gorgeous children and husband, and everyone loves her...not true. Recently she went out without make-up on and the whole world bought the pictures, published them and tore her image apart. Why, because she's maturing and not the perfect person people believe she is. I still think she's beautiful, and don't care if she looks a bit older without her make-up on. Nor does God and He proves it in the following verse:

'People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions.' (1 Samuel 16:7)

So why do we constantly try and find acceptance from these people?

I believe that I'm best friends with the only person who will NEVER put me down, NEVER gossip behind my back and ALWAYS accepts me whether I'm beautiful, ugly, smelly or annoying!! Who is He...Jesus Christ. I know for a fact that Jesus loves and accepts me, not just because He says it in the Bible, but also because the Bible works. There are many things people do these days to be accepted by the crowd, and the Bible tells us that in the long run these things will make us unhappy. Things such as; gossiping; hatred; getting drunk; being sexually immoral. They certainly made me unhappy, and I started to believe I needed to do the things I listed above, just to fit in and be accepted. So now I know Jesus loves me because He didn't want me to be unhappy! Also, the Bible talks a lot about changing on the inside, but not once does it say "go out and change your hairstyle"!

It's quite a hard thing to stand up and say "I'm never going to get rid of these love handles, but I don't care because Jesus loves me." You need to understand also that it doesn't necessarily mean you have to feel ugly or stupid to be a Christian, because then God accepts you. It just means that you learn to be happy with yourself so you can be free to get on with life without having to analyse your every meal, or outfit etc. I know I'm not the most beautiful person in the world, I have parts of me that I wanted desperately to change as a teenager, but God has given me something priceless...acceptance. I now know, whatever I look like in the morning...He loves me, whatever clothes I wear (although I do love dressing up!)...He loves me! If I'm going to be honest, self criticism is not only depressing for you, but it's also incredibly selfish, you could be doing many more worthwhile things with your time! So the most beneficial thing you can do is ignore what magazines or the people around you are saying, and look at yourself as God sees you, the most incredible being ever created. Then get out there and don't waste God's creation, tell everyone who will listen how precious they are to God!!