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THE PROMISE OF OPEN ACCEPTANCE
John 6:35-40

21st July 2002

Recently, the Australian Council of Social Services announced that there are now more than two million poor in this country. At Wesley Mission we have discovered that when people live in poverty it is not only that they are deprived of food and money. They have a feeling of absolute worthlessness. They have extremely low self-esteem and feel rejected by society. They feel unacceptable.

We work with the poor through all areas of help: in giving furniture, clothing and food parcels, in counselling and developing skills, in touching the lives of 100,000 people in our service ministries through Life Line, Credit Line, Gambling Counselling and so on. We know that when a person is unemployed he or she feels absolutely rejected. That is why we work so hard to get people into real jobs. Last year we helped 27,000 into jobs. Others who feel rejected are the Australian Aborigines who regard their call for land rights as crucial in their search for a place of dignity in their original homeland. They say that the lack of a treaty means they are not accepted by the Australian nation or the Australian people.

Some children also concern us. Specifically those children whose parents do not care enough about them. They send them to school but the children do not arrive in class. The children play all day every day until an Education Counsellor visits the home and long-term truancy is recognised. 81% of long-term truants who were contacted have a low self-esteem; 78% come from one-parent homes; 71% have seen domestic violence in their homes. They feel unwanted even at school. 

Young people who are long-term truants feel that they are not wanted at home, at school, or in the community. They feel rejected – as do the poor, the unemployed and the Aborigines. Many elderly people also feel rejected. They should be enjoying the pleasant harvest of their autumn life but instead are saying things like this, “My children don’t want me these days.” “The family never comes to see me. They don’t care. No one really wants me.” They ring me late at night on radio and tell me I am the only one who cares for them. In spite of the years they have given to family and the community, they feel unwanted.

There are so many who have this deep sense of not being wanted. They are dispensable and disposable. We live in a throwaway age. When we lunch at a fast food place, we use polystyrene plates and plastic knives and forks. After use, we throw the lot away. Sadly, there are also throwaway people. Some of them come seeking the fellowship that Wesley Mission gives seven days a week.
Folk get up to all kinds of tricks in order to get accepted. Some children steal money to buy things for others so that they will be noticed. Some adults acquire material possessions to boost their standing in the eyes of their friends. There are those who even sell themselves in their effort to be loved and accepted. But the business of getting and stealing, spending and selling, only makes matters worse. It is here that we need one of the promises of Jesus. The promise is that He accepts you, and when Jesus accepts you He says: “It is God’s will that I should not lose any of all those given to Me”. Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 He promises complete satisfaction.

1. YOU WILL NEVER BE HUNGRY, NEVER THIRSTY.
When you come to Him you will be satisfied…and accepted. Jesus promises that He will satisfy your deepest longings. If it is for friendship, He offers you friendship. If it is for purpose in life, He offers you purpose. If it is for meaning, He offers you meaning. If it is for a sense of belonging, that, too, He will give. He says, “I am the Bread of Life”. Bread is necessary for physical life, but life is much more than physical. It is also psychological, spiritual and emotional. Jesus is able to satisfy the deepest needs in all of these areas. Ultimately, life comes from God and Jesus is the only person who can make us right with God. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and He brings us into a relationship with God that is life in all of its abundance. He is the bread that satisfies.

The claim to be the Bread of Life is one of the nine great ”I am” statements of Jesus by which He describes His ministry to us. “I am the Bread of Life”. “I am the Light of the world”. “I am the True Vine”. “I am the Door of the fold”. “I am the Good Shepherd”. “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. In all of these sayings, Jesus is emphasizing the same truth, “I can satisfy your deepest need”. Whatever your need may be, Jesus is the Bread that satisfies it. Some will deny that they have that kind of hunger, or that they have that kind of thirst. Jesus wants you to admit that you are spiritually hungry and thirsty. Then He can offer you the fountain of living water, and the Bread of life. Jesus said that many who had seen Him would not believe. John 6:36 These are the self-satisfied, the self-fulfilled. Yesterday’s psychologists offered self-fulfilment as the answer to most individual needs. But there has come a change. Today’s psychologists speak differently.

A recent survey shows that today only 17% of Americans put self-fulfilment as the principal life goal. This signals the end of what was called the ‘Me” decades of last century. The “Me” decade placed “self” and the realisation of full “potential” as the all-important pursuits of life. In his book “New Rules: Searching for Self-Fulfilment in a World Turned Upside Down” Random House, 1981, Daniel Yankelovich sees a new ethic of commitment dawning in which self-denial instead of self-fulfilment is significant. He suggests that as the era of “Me” has come to an end and an era of commitment is about to begin. For Christians, that commitment is to the will of God. This was spelled out in the Sermon on the Mount, “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully.” Matthew 5:6

This is consistent with earlier Old Testament promises. “I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry.” Isaiah 58:11 “Give thanks to the Lord, because He is good; His love is eternal!…They were hungry and thirsty and had given up all hope. Then in their trouble they called to the Lord, and He saved them from their distress. He led them by a straight road to a city where they could live. They must thank the Lord for His constant love, for the wonderful things He did for them. He satisfies those who are thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:1, 5-9 This is the promise of Jesus. Those who come to Him will never be hungry and those who believe in Him will never be thirsty. Satisfaction! Total satisfaction. That is His promise.

2. YOU WILL NEVER BE TURNED AWAY.
There is not only satisfaction in Jesus, there is also security. Jesus said “ All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. John 6:37-39

There is no discrimination. “I will never drive away any-one.” In the original Greek there is a double negative: “I will never, no never, drive away anyone”. Once you are in Him there is security. There is full acceptance. Although the promise is to “anyone”, this does not mean that there are not standards. It is not an acceptance without any qualification. If you accept a person regardless of who he is or what he has done, it means that you have no standards yourself. Something more than acceptance is required. Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member!” Many people fear that one day, God will look at them, consider their past and deliver His judgement: “Not happy Jan!” They know there is a standard. Jesus not only accepts, He loves. He loves you no matter what you have done and He pays the price for your actions. That payment is the Cross. He has already paid the cost. When there is love like that there is more than acceptance, there is the security of love. When you come to Jesus Christ it is because the Father is leading you. If you come to Him, He will never turn you away, but will share with you the quality of His life and the standards of His love. Here now in Wesley Theatre is the most multi-racial, multi-cultural congregation in Australia. When God calls you, you are accepted and secure within His family. The glory is, that anyone may come!

Once, looking through the magazine, “Life”, I came across an advertisement featuring a family. It asked, “What is a family?” Underneath the advertisement said, “The private jokes that you have that do not mean any-thing to anyone else; the little teasing that goes on between you; the sense of commitment you have to each other; the cool hand on a hot head late at night; but, above all, a feeling that you belong.” That is what Jesus was talking about. “I will never drive away anyone.” We are part of His family with the fulfilment, security, and sense of satisfaction that belonging brings.

3. YOU WILL BE RAISED TO LIFE.
It is God’s will that we shall remain in His family. If we do God promises us eternal life. Jesus said, “this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:39,40 The promise of Jesus reaches out beyond this life. You will be part of the resurrection and be with those who live eternally. 

The steps to the resurrection life begin with “looking to the Son”. That means understanding Him, realising who He is, and what He has done. The second step is to “believe in Him”. To believe means an active trust in the Person and work of our Lord. The third step is to our ultimate destiny. “I will raise them up at the last day.” There is no stopping place, but an ongoing journey. God so loves us that whoever believes in Him will not die but will have everlasting life. Are you looking to Jesus? Are you believing in Him? Do you want to be in the family forever?”

When we are committed to Him, He promises to give to us a life that is abundant, eternal, and free. There are many who feel rejected, abandoned, unwanted, unaccepted, unloved. But Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

I have been counselling a woman who has asked me to tell you her story. She rang me first because she was being evicted for non-payment of rent. I arranged for $1000 to pay the debts and to secure the future for her teenage son and herself. Years ago she became pregnant following a rape. She gave birth to her son, but shortly afterwards was injured in an accident and became paralysed from the waist down. From a wheelchair, she has brought up her son on her own. But they have used the accident money over the years. Lack of exercise, bad eating habits, and severe depression has led to her becoming grossly over-weight. Her son is about to go to work and probably will leave home in the near future. She came to Wesley Mission because she heard we provide intensive assistance for people like her. Grossly over-weight, in a wheel chair, depressed, she had little job prospect. But through our staff she has become a Christian, lost over 20 kilos, started as a switchboard operator in a manufacturing company and joined a small Christian fellowship that is supporting her without promising her she will walk again. I was able to ease the debt burden and convince her that she is a worthwhile person because Christ accepted her. Because Christ accepted her, she now accepts herself. She is starting the second half of her life in pretty good shape. Jesus says, “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6: 40 You should also find His acceptance.

Wesley Mission, Sydney.