And That Is What We Are

I asked a question about the idea of knowing ourselves in last Monday’s post. What if it is the most unselfish work we do? I propose that it is the most unselfish and important work we can do based on what Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31.

We love God and others as well as we love ourselves. I am glad to know that the seminary I attend considers this an essential part of what we learn and discuss as leaders and future leaders of the church. Actually, a discussion with my classmates about Stephen Seamands’ Ministry in the Image of God prompted my thoughts about these posts. One of my classmates asked how the church needs to respond to a culture obsessed with “knowing oneself.” We should respond by making the church the safest place to know God, ourselves, and others, and lead the way in doing it so that it glorifies Him, points us to Jesus, and causes us to love better.

This work is for the greater good of the church and the world. When we truly know ourselves, then we can choose to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others and the Kingdom. The way we know ourselves is to know the One who created us; to know Whose image we bear. It is not a selfish endeavor to learn how to love ourselves in the way God means for us to.

A New Self

Seamands calls it gracious self-acceptance and states that it is necessary for our maturity. Notice the bold portion of his quote. It’s heartbreaking to know that too many of us are busy hating that soul that God loves.

Of course, there is a fallen, sinful self that Scripture says must be denied (Mark 8:34) and put to death (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22-3). But there is a new self, our authentic self, that is loved by God and is therefore to be accepted and nourished (Ephesians 4:24). In fact, only as we accept our authentic self are we free to love others. As Leanne Payne maintains, “If we are busy hating that soul that God loves and is in the process of straightening out, we cannot help others—our minds will be riveted on ourselves—not on Christ who is our wholeness.” Thus gracious self-acceptance, delighting in ourselves because God loves and delights in us, is an essential aspect of spiritual and emotional maturity.

Stephen Seamands, Ministry in the Image of God

Now we must ask how we do this. How do we learn to accept ourselves? How do we learn to be loved by Him?

We ask Him. “Self-acceptance is thus a gift, a work of grace wrought in our heart through the Holy Spirit. Our part is to receive the gift, to accept ourselves on the basis of God’s acceptance,” Seamands writes.

We listen and we follow.

Mike Bickle, the founding director of the International House of Prayer said this, “God wants us to be something before He wants us to do something.”

We are His beloved sons and daughters and we let Him be our Abba Father.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1 NIV

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3 Comments

  1. Claire on May 3, 2021 at 10:19 am

    Definitely, and because the abuse of power is often derived from either an inflated sense of self or self-hatred, this is of utter importance. “The real man is at liberty to be his Creator’s creature. To be conformed with the Incarnate is to have the right to be the man one really is. Now there is no more pretense, no more hypocrisy or self-violence, no more compulsion to be something other, better and more ideal than what one is. God loves the real man. God became a real man” (Bonhoeffer, Ethics, Ethics as Formation). Thank you for this reminder.

    • marieg on May 3, 2021 at 10:35 am

      Thank you for adding to the conversation, Claire. Powerful insights from Bonhoeffer. My class is reading his Life Together among other greats. I do believe there is an epidemic of self-hatred in our church leaders today. May we step into God’s invitation to delight in Him and learn to be delighted in.

      • Claire on May 3, 2021 at 1:03 pm

        I have read that gem and often given it to others. Godspeed 🙂

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