This is the first in my collection of faith-based discipleship paintings. I’m painting this collection alongside writing a book on the complexities faced within Christian discipleship.
I painted vertical stripes of different skin tones on top of a blue and orange pattern. Then I painted a red and gold border and added white ‘bubbles’.
I chose this design because I wanted to clearly represent that everyone is accepted by God and He draws us all to Himself – like moths to a flame. The border represents safety. The bubbles represent fluidity and gentleness, fun and freedom.
“Accept that you are accepted, despite the fact that you are unacceptable” – Paul Tillich.
This quote holds a challenge for us, doesn’t it?
Oftentimes we feel that acceptance is conditional. This stems largely from social norms. For example, I can acceptably wear a bikini to the beach, but wearing a bikini to Tesco would be frowned upon and unacceptable.
t seems to me that this sort of acceptance – accepted even when unacceptable- sets us in good stead for growing in unconditional love and inclusion.
For a really long time, I acted more like a Jewish Pharisee rather than a disciple of Jesus. This is difficult to admit. But, like the apostle Paul I have had quite a dramatic change of heart. One of the chapters in the Bible that helped me with this most is Romans 14.
I have been thinking about this topic for a long while and there seems to be a scale of acceptance. On one end you have radical judgement and on the other, you have radical acceptance. In the middle, you have a neutral position. The reason I mention this scale is that both ends of the scale can cause relational issues, particularly between disciples on opposite ends of the scale.
In Romans 15:7 it says, ‘accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.’
I’m going to leave you with a question and action step, before praying for us.
Question: In what ways do you struggle to accept yourself, or others?
Action Step: Journal, or pray, about any of the ways you wish to grow in acceptance.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us grow as your faithful disciples. Lord, it often feels difficult to navigate the complexity and settle ourselves on tough content. Thank you for always loving us. Where we struggle to accept ourselves, others, or accept that you accept us, please help, guide, and comfort us. Amen.