Accept One Another
ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER
“Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).
Diversity was present in the church from its inception. Converts came from various backgrounds, customs, and traditions. Such diversity sometimes contributed to differences of opinion and conflict among the brethren. There were both Jews and Gentiles in the church. Some were weak in faith regarding the matter of eating certain meats, according to the law of Moses, while others regarded all food as clean. Paul’s teaching was quite clear: Don’t judge the one who eats. Don’t regard with contempt the one who does not eat. And don’t make choices that will put a stumbling block in any brother’s way. Rather, “accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Rom. 14:1; 15:7-13).
The body of Christ has always been populated with folks from differing backgrounds and perspectives on life, just as it was in the first century—rich and poor; slave and free; male and female. The same is still true. The glory of the gospel message is that, in Christ, we are reconciled in the one body. Our common heritage as children of God causes all such differences to fade into the background, because we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28).
But we are not to suppose that, as Christians, all our differences will disappear, or that we will always agree on everything or see all things from the same perspective. We are to accept one another, even when we sometimes disagree. Our inability to do so is often the result of divisive attitudes such as envy, jealousy, strife, arrogance, or selfishness.
Accepting one another does not mean the acceptance of sinful attitudes or behavior. Unfortunately, children of God sometimes choose to follow after sin, or to encourage it through their teaching. We can neither accept nor participate in such choices.
But we do accept one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Accept one another, regardless of social status, race, gender, customs, or religious background. Accept one another, regardless of disagreement on matters of opinion. Accept one another, regardless of one’s level of spiritual maturity or knowledge. Accept one another, regardless of one’s past or the baggage we may bring along with us.
And of course, Jesus is our example—“just as Christ also accepted us.” Jews and Gentiles were to accept one another in the same way that Christ accepted both groups. The Lord himself invited anyone and everyone who was willing, to take up his yoke of discipleship—the blind and lame; tax collectors and sinners; Pharisees and rulers; rich and poor; the religious and the irreligious.
So, in the same way, we in his church are to accept one another. The rich are to receive the poor, and the poor the rich. The ignorant are to accept the learned, and the learned the ignorant. Employers and employees, male and female, black and white—all are to accept one another. We are to do so because Christ by grace has accepted us all. Freely, lovingly, happily, and with great cost to himself, Christ has received each one of us “to the glory of God.”
“Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”