Christ suffered hatred, abuse, and shame so that you might have the gift of being included in God’s family, so that you could be encircled by God’s love and care. You could know the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the faithfulness of your heavenly Father, the love of your elder brother, Jesus. In Christ, you have God as your shepherd, provider, and friend. You have the ear and heart of the King of the universe. God came down from his exalted place in Heaven to be the outcast for you—the Savior that you needed—so that you might be included in his heart.
We often get caught up with how we appear to others—our image is important to us. The desire for approval can creep into even the simplest tasks that we do, or preoccupy our thoughts. Whether it is the reason behind why we dress or act a certain way, the filters we use on our Instagram or Facebook posts, or the people we choose to hang out with in public, creating a persona or protecting the one we already have can be a sinister motivator. As Christians, how do we break with this self-centered behavior and the idolatrous search for approval by others?
Christians may find themselves to be outcasts because of their faith.
The apostle Peter has some very helpful words in the beginning of his second letter as he writes to Christians who would have been on the outside of society, those who would have been the outcasts. Because of their faith in Christ, they no longer would have fit in with their neighbors or former friends. The urge to slide back into society and feel the old sense of belonging would likely have been a temptation for them as no one likes to be the odd one out. Peter writes in his introduction,
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. (2 Pet. 1:1-3)
All Christians are in the same “inside circle” as children of God.
Peter tells his Christian brothers and sisters that they have received the same faith that the apostles have. The apostles don’t have a special Christianity because they are apostles. All Christians have the same beautiful and wonderful faith. All Christians by God’s power have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, helping them to face life challenges and grow in godliness. The Christianity that the apostles held is the same as the Christianity of the other followers of Christ (2 Pet. 1:1).
Have you ever felt left out? You look on while the popular girls or guys do their thing. You wish you were on the inside circle. You wish you had something special about you to make people notice. So, maybe you try to make yourself look different by your dress, make-up, lifestyle, activities. You try to play the part so somebody, anybody, will take notice and include you, make you feel special and sought after. With Jesus you don’t need to do any of that.
The most wonderful gift, Jesus himself, has been given to you along with all Christians over the centuries. Along with famous Christians, renowned missionaries, pastors, and evangelists who have done great works for Christ’s church, and even the apostles, you have the same faith. You are not second class. The Holy Spirit dwells in you like he dwelt in the apostles. Jesus is your Savior just like he was the apostle Peter’s. And you didn’t do anything to deserve this “faith of equal standing.”