We live in a world that is obsessed with approval.
I saw this morning that President Obama's approval numbers are slipping. No doubt his staff is scrambling to do some serious image adjustment in the weeks to come. If you watched the Master's golf tournament last weekend, you know how concerned Tiger Woods was about the reaction of the crowds and whether or not he would get their approval. If only he had been so concerned about keeping his wife's approval! Around the country, high school seniors are waiting for word of approval from their college or university of choice. They are asking the question- am I good enough for you?
In this culture of approval, we can easily transfer this question to God. We wonder- God, do you approve of me? There's a passage in the New Testament where God voices his unqualified approval of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 3, Jesus is baptized by John, and as they are coming up out of the water, God says, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy!" What an amazing declaration of God's affirmation towards his son.
What is interesting to note about this scene is how much Jesus had NOT done at this point in his life. As far as we know, Jesus had never preached a single message, never healed a single person, and he didn't have a single follower. It was just Him- a carpenter from Nazareth with nothing on his resume. AND YET, this is the very time when God expresses His approval of Jesus. God approved of Jesus not because of what He had done, but because of who he was. Simply put, God loved and approved of Jesus because he was God's son.
This has tremendous meaning for you and I. You see, the Bible says that when we follow Jesus, we become sons and daughters of God. It also says that Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters. We are so connected to Jesus that what can be said of God's heart towards him can also be said of us! Apart from anything we have (or haven't) ever done, before we accomplish anything of real significance or value, God looks at His children- at us- and says, "This is my son. This is my daughter. I love them dearly, and they bring me great joy."
Have you ever thought of that? You bring God great joy. Not because of how much you can do for Him, but simply because you belong to Him. And when we grasp this truth, it can change the way we live. No longer do we run into the world at a feverish pitch trying to get God to like us and approve of us. He already does. So we can move out intentionally into our world as people who are approved by God Himself. When we know that approval, we truly have something to offer the world around us.
Affirmation always precedes mission.
May you know God's approval on your journey today-