Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
This chapter is full of really rich truth that I could easily see as someones “favorite verse.” At the same time, it is stressing the reality that we need a lot of help, because nobody’s perfect. A big part of that is that we tend to want everyone to be like us, subconsciously at least. That’s where xenophobia and racial prejudice come from, but those are just some of the more obvious symptoms of the problem. A majority of marital friction comes from the countless differences between men and women (regardless of what some people are saying these days). However, differences are part of God’s plan. Paul goes to some length in 1 Corinthians 12 to explain the whole matter of unity in diversity, with the almost comical illustration of the whole body being an eye, or an ear. (1 Corinthians 12:17) This is a theme he touches on in many of his letters, and this verse is a vital part of that. One problem in this is that not all differences are equal. Some people are claiming today that pedophilia is “just another sexual orientation,” for example. We need to know the difference between accepting and affirming, between forgiving and condoning. Jesus indeed accepts us as we are, but that doesn’t mean He says everything about us is good. God indeed has standards of right and wrong, good and bad, but the problem is, we tend to ignore those and set up our own standards, and that never ends well. The better we grasp exactly how Christ accepted us, the more accurately and fully we will accept one another. Another facet of this is accepting ourselves. We spend far too much time wishing we were like someone else, or were someone else, when we need to have a clear-eyed view of ourselves and go from there, to grow and improve as God directs.
This is an issue I deal with constantly. As a Caucasian in Japan, I have dealt with acceptance all my life, sometimes more successfully than at other times. That struggle has enabled me to grow, and right now people are sometimes surprised at how I treat and accept people equally. That doesn’t mean I’ve got it nailed down, though! I still get exasperated at people for various reasons, wanting them to be more like me, forgetting how much I’ve messed things up at times! As a pastor I am constantly seeking to help people recognize this truth themselves, but it is generally slow going. That’s why we all need the grace, mercy, and guidance of the Lord.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I indeed run into this issue constantly! Keep me from talking down to people, but rather help me speak the truth in love in ways they can receive it, so that together we will do Your will, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!