I’ll be the first to admit that last Sunday, I almost rolled my eyes at Pastor Jon’s first point in his message. “Get in the pouch,” seriously? But the reality is that it speaks to a heart need in every one of us that in turn has tremendous impact on our sense of identity.
Using a kangaroo pouch as the idea, Jon described our need to get into God’s “pouch.” It’s a place of closeness surrounded by the love and care of God. We all desire to be loved and accepted. And truthfully, we’ll do and be almost anything to gain a sense of being loved and accepted. The crazy, beautiful, and scary reality is that God made us this way. We were made by God to be in relationship with Himself. In that pure relationship there would be no need to strive for acceptance, to prove one’s worthiness of love.
Sadly, due to sin, that purity is not what we experience. So we strive and we struggle, all in the pursuit of unconditional love and acceptance. Some of us adopt personas hoping it will make us more likable. Some focus on appearances and are driven to constantly improve our own image. Some become self-deprecating because we believe it will be easier to handle the disappointments and hurts if we beat others to the punch.
We try so hard in so many ways and then try to numb the pain that comes with the emptiness when we fail to gain what we seek.
Herein lies the hard to understand truth of grace. God loves each one of us. He wants us to know that we are loved by Him. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we gain His full acceptance and love when we come to faith in Him. For those of us called His children we have nothing to prove. We are fully loved and accepted by the one who created us.
And to some extent that in itself is offensive. I don’t know about you but I like the idea of proving myself. I’ve worked hard over the years to gain love and acceptance from those around me. But the Bible says that work was trash. The harsh truth is that if I continue to try and prove myself worthy of God’s love I’m saying that Jesus wasn’t enough.
The alternative is as Jon said. We rest “in the pouch,” we find comfort in the love and acceptance of our heavenly Father. This is why Micah’s words resonate with us:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
If I am fully loved and accepted by God and have nothing to prove, then I can freely do what He has shown me. I can act justly, demonstrate mercy, and humbly love God in the everyday parts of my life. And this is not just for myself but also as a demonstration of God’s love to those around me.
Because I am fully loved, I am free to fully love. Because I am fully accepted, I can fully accept others where they are. That is a beautiful freedom.