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acceptanceEveryone wants to be accepted, especially by those we want to be with.  It is what makes best friends, peer groups, and gangs.  All want someone to accept them for who they are and are glad to embrace those who will accept them.  One of life’s struggles is to have our families, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances come to know us and like us anyway.  Most of us are not lucky enough to get full acceptance, but that desire is within                                                  us.

          Imagine an IRS agent, especially in times like these, and their desire for acceptance.  As soon as they answer, “What do you do?” I bet a lot of people move on, for not only are tax collectors the butt of many jokes, they are also feared, and most surely they are not respected or to be desired in most people’s inner circle.  One such man sat at his “IRS” desk collecting taxes as a famous preacher walked by.  His name was Levi.  He didn’t try to talk to Jesus, knowing that as a Jew he was hated for collecting taxes for the Romans.  Certainly this famous Jewish rabbi would not find him acceptable.  Imagine his surprise when Jesus stopped by his booth and said, “Follow me.”  Levi got up and left his old life, then invited Jesus, the crowd, and some fellow tax collectors to a dinner at his house.  After that night Levi was never the same.  Jesus called him to be one of his 12 disciples and Levi’s name was changed to Matthew.  He later wrote the book of Matthew to tell other Jews the story of Jesus and how he was the long awaited for Messiah.  Levi (Matthew) had found the acceptance of God and that gift of acceptance changed him.  (You can read Matthew’s story in Matt. 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5)  Matthew is not one of the “famous” disciples and not much is said about him in the gospels, but he certainly paid a lot of attention to Jesus as he preached for how else would he be able to so clearly write down the stories of Jesus?  He must have been a man who noticed and remembered the details since his gospel was written many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Jesus’ acceptance of him was so powerful that he wanted to know everything about Jesus before and after he met him.

          I too have been a seeker of acceptance and nothing has changed my life more than the first meeting and the continued meeting with my Lord and Savior.  Jesus is the only one who knows me as I am and loves me freely and completely anyway.  There is no need for me to fear being rejected by Him, even when I have acted badly.  He is always on my side.  Although He doesn’t have a hard time convicting me of my sins, He is also not one to condemn me.  (Rom. 8:1)  This freedom has allowed me to let go and allow Him to help me change for the better.  I’m not where I want to be but with Jesus loving me I know that He will help me grow more like Him every day and until that time I am accepted in the beloved.  (Eph. 1:6)  I have finally found the one person who accepts me as I am and because of that, like Levi (Matthew), I want to leave the old life and walk into the new one telling all about this Jesus who loves and accepts me and how He will do the same for you too.