Acceptance into any group, large or small, appears to be a strongly felt need for every one of us. I can remember at primary school I could run very fast and won the races we had on the field during the summer term.
I also experienced the resentment of a couple of other kids who I liked and whose friendship I valued. I soon worked out that I’d rather be liked and included by ensuring I came third rather than compete to win. Winning offered nothing like the affirmation I drew from friendship.
The challenge of this inner need for acceptance and inclusion is that we can make poor choices over how we behave in search of acceptance. This acceptance is also very short-term. I have had no contact with my primary school mates since changing school at the age of 11.
Worse, as I grew older, I began to seek to manipulate situations for my own advantage by seeking to ingratiate myself with those I thought might best advance my cause. I was wrong for three critical reasons. I wasn’t being authentic to myself, I was abusing other people, and I was operating at a completely selfish level. All I was doing was wresting control of my life out of God’s hands.
This is the earthly thinking St Paul speaks of. It is where I conspire with what I know of myself and the world around me to ensure that I am safe and, where possible, successful.
This thinking is informed by fear, which is fuelled by the enemy of God. It questions my security on the full provision God has made for me. This is the thinking and practice that builds up the walls between ethnicities and seeks to demonise others in the false promise of offering safety and security. In reality, fear and the desire for acceptance fuels division and inspires violence.
God invites us to take responsibility to withhold the oxygen from this earthly approach!
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings