Summary: Followers of Jesus are affirmed by God because of who Jesus is, not because of who we are as an individual. God never accepts us for who we are, He accepts us because as followers of His Son, we are who we are because of Jesus. And God accepts Jesus.

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Hebrews 13:4 "Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery."

Our goal as followers including those of us who are married is to remain faithful. We started the series on Marriage and the Jesus follower by asking three questions from the teaching of Jesus designed to help us reflect on our mission as followers.

1. Do I love Jesus more than my stuff?

2. Is the family of God more important to me than my own?

3. Will I gladly leave my home behind to share the Gospel of Jesus with others?

We discussed last week how selfishness is a core motivator that keeps us from the mission of Jesus, and how this sin is a serious contributor to the breakdown of marriages and other relationships. Married individuals who are each centered on Jesus is a marriage that can answer these questions with a resounding YES.

This leads us to this session. As followers we need to understand that it's necessary to change who you are. It's impossible to follow Jesus unless you have been changed. Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." It's impossible to be a follower of Jesus unless you have been changed, transformed from a selfish person to a selfless person.

If your gut reaction to this message is that I'm not changing. If you're thinking something along the lines of "You must accept me for who I am", or if you really believe that God is going to accept you simply because of who you are, then this message will make you deeply uncomfortable, or it might just tick you off. It's not my intent to make anyone angry, but, typically selfish people don't like to hear this stuff, especially if they think they're fine Christian folk just the way they are.

First, this has nothing to do with personality. We're talking about something much deeper than the way we talk, or our personal mannerisms or traits. We live in a culture that is addicted to affirmation. One of the most popular posts especially among teens on facebook and twitter has something to do with, "accept me the way I am."

But it's impossible to read through the New Testament and find this understanding. The opposite is true. Jesus said unless you experience a new birth you can't be a follower. Repeatedly in the New Testament the truth is shared that we become a new person in Jesus. 1 Peter 1:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 6:4-6

Romans 12:2 says, "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

Here's what we all need to understand. Followers of Jesus are affirmed by God because of who Jesus is, not because of who we are as an individual. God never accepts us for who we are, He accepts us because as followers of His Son, we are who we are because of Jesus. And God accepts Jesus. Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:14; Matthew 28:18

As married followers we must have this core understanding. Jesus changes us. We don't change ourselves. However, it should be stated that IT IS possible to have a healthy relationship by human standards without a relationship with Jesus being at the center. Many marriages survive without Jesus being the center.

So what makes a healthy marriage into a supernatural relationship? The same thing that takes a healthy person and transforms them into a supernatural being. A relationship with Jesus. For those marriages where both spouses are Jesus followers the center of their relationship is Jesus, because as individuals that is their focus.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith"

Jesus changes us. We don't change ourselves. So let's get practical with all of this. We're a religious people. We do religious stuff. When we take a look at relationships is it important for us to ask why we do what we do? Should we ask why we do our religious stuff? Is it important for a husband or wife to know why they are married? Is this a ridiculous question? Some would say, "yes." Some would say, "I married my spouse because I love them." Duh. Are you sure it wasn't lust? or infatuation? or because you felt you had to? Have you ever heard of the shotgun wedding?

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