‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.’Romans 15:7
Sometimes people don’t make it easy to accept them. They can be bad–tempered, selfish, critical, irritating, dismissive, aggressive and pompous. Sometimes you want to give them a piece of your mind; give them what they deserve—anything but acceptance. The command, ‘accept one another’, is inconvenient. And if Paul had stopped there we might dodge the directive by saying he obviously meant good, reasonable, acceptable people. Alas, he goes on, ‘just as Christ accepted you’. Were you good, reasonable and acceptable? No, but He accepted you—flaws and all—and He still does! You say, ‘Somebody has to straighten these people out and require them to act right!’ You mean like Jesus required before He accepted you? Roman Christians had difficulty accepting their less experienced brothers, and Paul corrected them: ‘Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment… for God has accepted him.’ (Roman 14:1–3) Straightening people out isn’t our department; accepting them is. God calls us to accept messed–up, unspiritual, carnal, obnoxious, doctrinally misled, ‘just plain wrong’ people. You don’t have to approve of, like, or agree with them, but accepting them isn’t optional. There’s no elite, privileged, insider class. We occupy level ground because of two realities: our sin and the cross! Jews and Gentiles despised each other, even after salvation. Each wanted the other to become like them. But Paul took the axe to the root of that tree: ‘For Christ Himself…reconciled both groups…by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.’ (Ephesians 2:14–16)
We’re to accept people—and let God adjust them.