Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
I hadn’t expected a follow-up to yesterday’s content today, but here it is. Acceptance is part and parcel of belonging; if we don’t feel accepted, we don’t feel like we belong. Medically, the biggest issue with tissue/organ transplants is rejection. Generally speaking, someone who receives an organ from someone else must then take medication the rest of their life to suppress the rejection response, and even then it sometimes isn’t successful. Christ accepts us, not because we are a perfect match but because of His love for us, and His blood is the “anti-rejection medicine.” Some people teach that since Christ accepts us as we are, we don’t need to change. Frankly, that’s denying the “anti-rejection medicine,” because “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) That doesn’t mean wallowing in the sin, it means getting out of it, because for the first time we are able to do so. That said, the focus of what Paul is saying here is our acceptance of one another. This is actually the Biblical foundation for the Christian axiom, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” Jesus accepts us even recognizing that we are sinful, but He doesn’t excuse the sin. In the same way, we are to accept one another as children loved by God without accepting as OK behavior that is in violation of God’s Word. That, frankly, sometimes is not easy. The better we understand how Christ has accepted us, the better we are able to accept others in the same way. When we don’t accept God’s forgiveness, we find we are unable to forgive ourselves and others. When we don’t recognize God’s incredible patience with us, we have a hard time being patient with others.
I find that sometimes people have a hard time believing I really do love them even though I hate their sin. People see me as “holier-than-they-are,” even though I strive not to come across as holier-than-thou. The better they get to know me the more they sense acceptance, but often they seem to have trouble making the first approach. I need God’s wisdom and anointing to come across as Jesus did, being a friend to sinners while saying “go and sin no more.” That balance can be very difficult! I am not to parade my own weaknesses, but neither am I to deny them. I am to express the love and grace of God as someone who would have no hope apart from that love and grace.
Father, thank You for this further expansion on the theme of acceptance and belonging. Thank You for the gathering Cathy and I could attend last night, and for the many contacts we could make. I pray that those contacts would bear fruit, drawing people into Your kingdom, Your family, because of Your acceptance expressed through us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!