The walls lining the road to hell are plastered with Satan’s favorite religious posters and memes. They announce half-truths. One reads, “God loves you just as you are.” In fact, love is bigger than acceptance.

Perhaps the most toxic inhibitor of spiritual growth is the idea that God accepts us as we are. It is frequently taught and sung, but is there a single line in the Bible that says it? Now, don’t mishear me. The Bible is clear that God reaches out to us, even searches for us. He receives us when we return to Him. He is patient with our failings. And yes, He loves us. But if we define love* as seeking the highest for someone, understanding that the highest is only found in relationship with our heavenly Father, then love does not add up to a shrug of acceptance. Only One ever pleased God as He was—Jesus.

While [Peter] was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5)

The Father expressed two things: pleasure with Jesus and a command to listen to Him. It is Jesus that His pleasure focuses on; not us! He endorsed Jesus as our model and teacher. In returning to God we are received and given a new start on a learning journey—listening to Jesus. This life will never be anything but a journey of transformation into Christlikeness.

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