Paul boldly said, “By God’s grace I am what I am.” Those are strong words, and they are Paul’s testimony concerning His complete self-acceptance. Reading the NT I find a Paul who often is stretched to the limits, who boldly speaks his words of faith, who stubbornly argues vehemently with Barnabas, who rejects the young Marcus, who confronts Peter, who more than once expressed that he was worried about this or that. We further find that Paul was well acquainted with his weaknesses and infirmities, and his thorn in the flesh is renowned. Paul was by no means a super human. But he was the one who articulated Gal 2:20, who wrote the letter to the Romans and who had found Christ as His life in all things.
He might as well have said, “By God’s grace I have all these weaknesses, these inclinations, these irrational thoughts, these powerful emotions, these strong passions, these worries, but, nevertheless, Christ lives as me.” In other words; “God has meant me to be all these things and they cannot be judged from the human sense level. They are all a part of His greater purposes, and, not least, they are the necessary negative background for His light to manifest.”
It was Paul who wrote that “the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who subjected it upon hope.” It was this vanity that rose in Eve when she saw the fruit from the forbidden tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes. It was because of vanity she became an easy prey for Satan’s designs. It was vanity that said: “God must be lying. This cannot be perfection. Look at me and all these weak spots I have. If I was perfect and created in God’s likeness I should have been like this or that, but I am not.” But the word states, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”
This vanity that we died from at the cross somehow still comes against us compelling us to strive for some sort of perfection or towards a rather blurry ideal of how we should be if we are true Christians. But, if God has meant us to be who we are and has accepted us and even declared His perfection over us then of necessity hopefully one day our eyes will be opened to the fact that His word is true and we can accept ourselves and make Paul’s words our own: “By God’s grace I am what I am .”
To be human isn’t an exercise in pretending, but it is a display of real lives lived boldly under God’s grace trusting that our self-reactions and lives at all times express Christ’s other love and we can by no means judge this in accordance with appearances. One of the allegories Paul used in his letter to the Romans to describe our humanity was likening us to slaves and a slave does what his owner tells him to do. That’s perhaps the most potent illustration Paul comes up with in regards to trusting God as us in all things. We do what He tells us. Period! In practical terms; we spontaneously express the divinity that owns us, and as new creations born again by the Spirit we express Christ.
We immediately become stuck in a wilderness of thorns if appearances is our starting point from where we judge ourselves. The truth is our vantage point and thus it is written; “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor 13:8). The only process we can talk about as new creations is the Spirit aligning our minds to the truth. Slowly but surely erroneous beliefs, negative believing and the likes have to be subjected to the truth; every knee (wrong belief) shall bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (the truth). And the truth speaks against vanity and decrees that by God’s grace I am what I am. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in faith” (2 Cor 13:5).