Accepted in the Beloved

One of the occupational hazards of the ministry is high expectations: expectations of yourself, and the expectations of others. So often these expectations are linked to performance and it is easy to feel that how we are accepted before God and before others is how well we do.

There is a wonderful phrase in Ephesians which helps us keep our ministry in perspective translated in the King James as “Accepted in the Beloved (1:6).” In this one phrase Paul captures the glory of the Gospel. The only true acceptance before God is when we are in his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shortly after my wife, Anna Belle, and I were married, I took a tour of the Orient with the evangelistic basketball team Venture for Victory. We had decided to get married before the tour to which I had committed, so our friends would be able to take part in the wedding. One of the wishes that we had for the wedding was that we would get a set of china, but instead of any china we received more pillow cases than we could use in a lifetime.

When the team arrived in Hong Kong, I thought it would be a wonderful gift for Anna Belle to buy a set of china for our new home. In those days I was able to buy a 96-piece set of beautiful Japanese china for $37.00. The only problem I had was the fact that it came in a huge wooden crate packed with excelsior, about 3 feet wide on each side, and weighing about 70 pounds. There was no way that I could carry this on the plane and I didn’t have any money to ship it home.

I was able to solve my problem by walking into a shipping firm and, when the clerk asked me what I wanted I said, “Hi, I am Clyde Cook” and then added five words. His response was, “What can I do for you.” I said I had this 70 pound wooden crate at the tea shop and I needed to get it back to Long Beach but I didn’t have any money to pay for shipping. He said, “No problem, where is it?”

I gave him the address of the shop and he said he would arrange for a truck to go down and pick it up, deliver it to the ship, and it would be off loaded in Long Beach for me at no charge.

You might ask why in the world would he be so generous? Well, it was because of those five magic words. I said, “Hi. I’m Clyde Cook, the son of Captain Cook.” You see, my father was a ship’s captain with that firm and the people in the office loved him. Every time Captain Cook came to port he would make it a point to come into the office to thank all those clerks who handled bill of ladings and other mundane jobs for their part in making the company work. He usually would bring a tin of biscuits for them to enjoy at tea time and so they loved Captain Cook.

Now if I had just gone up to the counter and said, “Hi. I’m Clyde Cook and I have this china I would like you to send back for me free” they would have told me to come up with the money or to leave.

However, when I said I was the son of Captain Cook, all my father’s righteousness and goodwill and favor transferred to me and their response was, “What can we do for you?”

Just as I was recipient of all my father’s righteousness, so we who are in Christ are the recipients of the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only are all our sins forgiven, but all the righteousness of Christ has been put upon us and so when God looks at us, He doesn’t see us in our sins and frailty and failure to live up to our expectations or those of others. Rather He sees us in His Beloved Son. The hymn writer has put it well:

Nearer to God, nearer to God, nearer I cannot be, For in the presence of His Son, I’m just as near as He.

In a moment of discouragement or failure, remember that you are Accepted in the Beloved.