Through the riches of His grace and to the praise of His grace, we are accepted in the beloved’. (Eph. 1:3-6)
What a powerful and precious phrase to savour on our lips and to take into our spirits. It is the perfect antidote to both inner confusion and condemnation and external rejection.
To get the full force of all that is implied by the word ‘accepted,’ however, we need to look at the Greek. The Greek word charitoó, (which is usually translated as either “accepted” or “freely bestowed”) speaks of something far richer than our usual English meaning. What the Lord is doing embraces the concept of “to make graceful, charming, lovely, and agreeable; to surround with favour and to honour with blessings.” (Thayer’s Greek lexicon). That really does merit a wow!
I will also give to each one a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. …To all who are victorious, who obey Him to the very end, I will give authority over the nations, the very same authority that I received from His Father, along with the morning star – my very own presence and power. Revelation 2:19, 26-28; 22:16
Used as we are to considering rewards in worldly terms – bonuses, salary increases, cars with higher spec – manna may not at first sight have seemed a very exciting reward until we looked a bit deeper. And the same is probably true of the white stones and the new name that we are promised in Revelation. But we are dealing here with things of eternal value.
As my great uncle Frank Weston wrote, “Even now the Bridegroom is quietly coining His new name for us – a name that will speak forever of His love and our hidden struggles and aspirations, and which He will bestow on us. This is how the Bridegroom will greet His Bride as He bestows on us this new name that He has chosen for us from all eternity. His Bride as He greets us. How sad it would be if we were to receive some lesser name simply because we lacked the faith and patience to endure!
“Doing all we can to overcome all traces of complaining and resentment and self-pity and other such things as may be lurking in our heart, for all these fight against the heart of calling that He is bestowing on us – and the perfect name that He is giving us. May He rather see gratitude and childlike acceptance in us; so that He can give us a name that will perfectly express all that He sees of our secret endeavour – a name that exquisitely sums up all that He has been to us, and all that we have been to Him.”
Might the Lord perhaps be prepared to share some hint of this new name with you now by showing you some expression of His particular love for you, as well as providing an antidote to whatever weakness or sense of rejection you may have grown used to living with.
Might the Lord inspire a name (some quality or key characteristic that is precious in His sight) to pass on to someone? The fact that they are beautiful in His sight? A bringer of peace or a ‘son or daughter of encouragement’ perhaps? Or a songbird who makes beautiful music in the house of the Lord? May the Lord drop some such name or quality now into your spirit so that you can receive encouragement yourself, as well as bless others on their pilgrimage. We will find it helpful to take some truth about God and ourselves and apply it in our hearts. How about ‘Accepted in the Beloved? It would be a perfect one to tuck away in our spirit and to make part of the rhythm of our prayer.
We can ‘fashion’ many words, mottos, themes into a sword, putting all the strength of our love into it as we engage with the Lord. As the anonymous author of The medieval Cloud of Unknowing put it, “it pierces the cloud of unknowing that stands between us and God.” As we celebrate and seek to develop this wonderful theme of being ‘accepted in the beloved,’ let’s end this reflection by putting the verse from Ephesians from which it is taken in context, using a different translation this time.
According to His good pleasure and will, God the Father chose us out of love even from before the creation of the world to be adopted as His sons and daughters and to be holy (that is, ‘consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven’ AMP) and blameless in His sight and presence. He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One.