“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring glory to God.” (Romans 15:7)
Unity begins with acceptance. The model is Christ. He accepted us (even when we were His enemies [Rom. 5:10; and deserving of wrath!]) – so, in reflecting Christ, we must accept one another. According to the apostle, it is not optional.
Sometimes we forget that the opposite of acceptance is rejection. Rejection is easier. Rejection requires nothing from us except criticism and judgment. It is easy to compare me vs. you – and to find that you don’t measure up. Rejection is built upon the standard that “I am better than you.” It is really WHY we don’t practice acceptance with each other – and why we feel justified in doing so.
Again, the model is Christ. He accepted us when He had every right to judge us. He should have condemned us in our sin. He should have poured out His wrath on humanity for all our selfishness. He should have come to dole out punishment – but, instead, He came to take our punishment. He came to receive the wrath we deserved. He came to be condemned on our behalf.
One reason only… He wanted us to know Him, to love Him, and to be received as His Own children. He wanted to accept us into His Family. And the only way He could do that was to make us acceptable. But His motivation was not pity, or remorse, or obligation – He was motivated purely by love. It was love that caused Him to do everything that needed to be done.
All that God wanted was to restore fellowship between Him and us. He wanted to restore what was broken between us (by OUR doing). He wanted to bring us back together — to unite us back to Himself. That’s all. The connection was lost – so He came to restore it… to make a way for us all to come back to union with Him.
It is this commitment to fellowship and union that drove Him to action.
It is this same commitment that must abide in His people.
At the heart of all this Church stuff is unity. God united with us, and us united with each other… Did you notice (in our verse above) why? It is all for God’s glory. The implication is clear… we cannot properly glorify God if we do not accept each other!
God is not glorified by our separation. Anyone can be separated from everyone. That takes nothing special (except an abundance of pride). But it takes something miraculous to overlook our concerns… and love anyway. It takes courage and fortitude to accept one another – especially when there are real issues involved.
But that is the whole point of being The Church. WE are empowered by God to do things that only God can do. And if He accepted us, in spite of our own serious issues, we can certainly accept one another. He gave us Himself (the Holy Spirit) to do just that!
That’s what the apostle is telling us. That’s what he is commanding us!
Unity begins with acceptance. And acceptance begins with the understanding that we were accepted by Christ. IF Christ accepted us… we have all the motivation we need to accept one another – even in our differences.
Prayer Focus: God, make me aware of all the ways I see myself as “better than” someone else… and quicken my heart to accept people just as you accepted me.