This week, we have the privilege of learning from Bridget Pavelec, Riverwood's Kids Creek director.
Hey, Hey Riverwood. Welcome to the first full week of summer! This week, as we continue our One Another series, we are talking about the biblical phrase “accept one another.” But I don’t want to simply talk about the modern definition of “acceptance” (the way it’s used in our current culture), but the way it is used in the true word of God.
Acceptance, by definition, means “the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) Christ’s death on the cross was the only offering God would accept in payment for our sin. And because of Jesus' perfect obedience (Philippians 2:8), God welcomes us into His family.
Because of this Divine acceptance, Paul says:
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”Romans 15:7 (NIV)
Notice in that verse how acceptance is two-fold.
First, God accepts you because He wants a relationship with you. You may have been rejected, ridiculed, or even abandoned by some people, but God gladly opens His arms to you when you confess your sins and accept Him as your Savior. Have you accepted Christ? If you are still unsure, I implore you to seek counsel, read your Bible, and search for the answers that would lead you to accepting the free gift of salvation.
If you have accepted Christ, think about how beautiful the gospel is. Even with all your sins, failures, and faults, God still wanted you, pursued you, and accepted you. But that leads to the second aspect of acceptance: When you experience the glorious overflow of God's grace poured upon you and into you, it should overflow out of you. You are called to accept others like Christ accepts you.
Are you accepting of others wherever you go? Or do you force people to conform to your standards or preferences? God’s welcoming grace and acceptance cannot be contained. We are to receive others in spite of our differences. When we do this, the praise rises to God.
Keep in mind, Romans 15:7 is aimed at the Jesus-follower to give acceptance to other Jesus-followers. So, as believers, our love for Christ should be greater than any differences we possess. We should desire our brothers and sisters in Christ to be unified with us in the body.
When we remind ourselves of what Jesus did for us, then any differences we might encounter among other believers are often trivial. God calls us into one body and one fellowship (Ephesians 4:4), so we need to cast off our differences and live together with Christ as the center.
This call to accept one another should lead us to listen to others and love others. That does not mean we have to agree or approve of everything they do or say. But it should drive us to introduce them to our saving God or remind them of Him who loves and accepts them right where they are, so HE can transform them into the image of Jesus.
So, who is He bringing into your life to accept? Who is He inviting you to welcome to your table? Take the time to get to know the people you encounter in your life, share the gospel, and accept them so God can receive the praise!
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