I used to try to please everyone. It was tiring. I couldn’t live up to the standards of those around me because I was living in a way I thought they wanted. You get that distinction? I was living up to a fake standard because no one had set it! Who was I trying to please? Everybody! But did I ever sit down and ask people what they wanted? Not really. I just tried to delicately hit the please people button at all times.
Jesus saw a man sitting in a tree and knew that the guy could use some freedom. Culture told this guy to be a good business man—making money at the expense of others—and to continue on in his loneliness. Jesus taught him to be generous, be known in community and serve others with gladness.
Jesus met a woman who came a well when it would would lack others because she lived in constant shame. Jesus handed her freedom. When she left him, she went into the city and told everyone— who she normally was afraid to talk to because of her shame —about a man who told her all she had ever done. Culture told her to simultaneously continue on in her broken sin and keep feeling shame about her choices, all the while living small. Jesus gave her the ability to give up shame and start living the good life.
Jesus looks us deep in the eye. He knows us. He counts our freckles, lies, hairs and secrets and then hands us His own righteousness to wear as clothing.
Jesus found me out in a church office. My pastor looked me in the eye and told me that I loved in a way that was huge and beautiful and that sometimes it wasn’t out of a good heart.
His words hurt but ultimately pushed me toward freedom because in calling me out on something no one else had,he taught me there was a different way. I could serve without expecting recognition. I could say yes and no to the right things because I wasn’t looking to people for acceptance. No, I could look to Christ.
When I describe that scenario with my pastor, I often tell people that he opened a window in a room I didn't know I was locked in. Freedom was not even on my mind but suddenly it was all I could ever believe for.
What would Jesus say to you today? How would He look at you? Would He see you only coming out to the well (your source of life!) when you think it’s safe to avoid others? Would He see you climbing up a tree because you think that on your own you don’t measure up? Would He see you looking like I did, sitting in a dark room unaware that a window was open and freedom was only belief away?
Friend, Jesus sees you. He sees you. He loves you. He accepts you. He longs for you to believe that He has good for you, that He really and truly does delight in you.
An earlier version of this piece first appeared here.