Sheila Heen, Lecturer at Harvard Law School says that humanity has two core needs.
- The need to feel accepted or respected or loved the way we are.
- The need to learn and grow.
Christ obliterated need number one. Get this: In Christ, we are fully known and yet fully loved. There is no hiding “the real us” from Jesus so that he will like us. He died a bloody death for us while we were still sinners (that is, enemies of God who were condemned to hell), in order to adopt us as God’s children into God’s forever family (see Rom. 5:8, and 8:15). *Mind-blown.
Christ shatters need number two by sealing us with his Holy Spirit. In the same breath that Jesus loves and accepts us in, he wants to teach us and grow us into something better -namely into his own likeness (see Rom. 8:28-29). “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We are given the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, comfort us in affliction, and compel us to live life on mission (see John 16:8, 2 Cor. 1:4, 5:14).
This is huge. You are loved and accepted completely in Christ, but you are not left to your own devices. You aren’t just given a new legal status “not guilty” but ultimately a new identity: son and daughter. Jesus doesn’t just take away the penalty of sin (death and hell); he crushes the reign of sin (life of obedience).
So now what?
First you need to stop and revel in the love of Jesus. Stop striving and working FOR the favor of God -or of anyone else for that matter- and start working FROM the favor of God. When you embrace the love and acceptance that you have in Christ based on his perfection, not yours, you are free to live a life of joy-filled obedience. There isn’t a time or place to simply sit and sour as a believer in the Lord Jesus, we must work out our “salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).