It’s easy for me to accept the people I have known for many years. I’m an introvert, and I’m actually a very shy person (which no one really believes . . . but it’s true!). But if I have known you for years, I will talk your ear off. Just ask my poor Book Club. I think I talked their ears off last night. =)
I know a lot of people, but I have a handful of deep relationships where the true me comes out.
It’s not so easy for me to accept people I’ve never met. It kind of makes me think of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, who claimed to be shy which was why he didn’t dance with anyone the first time he appears in the book. In a new setting, I usually hide in a corner and watch people until I can read enough body language to know who is going to be willing to put up with me.
And I don’t necessarily think accept is the right word in that context. It’s not that I struggle with liking people or even loving people. It’s just that I struggle with letting everyone into my inner circle.
So when I read today’s verse, I got to wondering exactly how I needed to apply it to my life.
The verse for today is Romans 15:7.
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
I was curious about context in this one so I read the whole first part of this chapter. Romans, of course, was written by Paul to the Christians in Rome. And the whole first part of Chapter 15 is talking about how those Christians who are strong in their faith need to live for others, to help others do the right thing, and making sure that our actions don’t cause a weaker Christian to stumble in their own faith.
I also checked this one out in the Amplified Version, and it expands the use of the term accept to include welcome and receive to your hearts. Wow. That sounds kind of intense! Because there’s a big difference in my mind between simply accepting someone and welcoming them into your heart.
Now hold up a second. I just need to reiterate that this is written to the Church in Rome. So what it’s saying is that among fellow Believers, we need to welcome and receive each other into each other’s hearts. Just needed to make that distinction. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from or how long you’ve known Christ, if you are a Believer, you are part of the family. And everyone needs to accept everyone else within the church because we are all brothers and sisters, through Christ.
Which means the opposite is true. It doesn’t mean we need to welcome and receive into our hearts any outside influences that can take our eyes off God. Of course, we need to love those who don’t believe the way we do. But we are not to welcome them into our hearts because people who don’t know Christ will affect the choices we make in following Him.
This verse is so important because I can tell you that the times I have felt most alone and most judged have been in the church. What is it about Christians that we’re always trying to measure each other? We judge each other by what we wear and how we talk and what music we listen to. Why? There shouldn’t be any judging there. God has already judged. If you have accepted Christ, you’re a new creature and it’s not my job to judge you on your clothes or anything. It’s my job to accept you–to welcome and receive you into my heart–because you are my brother or sister.
And it’s also my job to help you, to assist you in building your life with Christ. To help you keep on the path. And it’s my responsibility as someone who has known Christ longer to refrain from any actions (actions or things that are okay between God and me) that might cause you to have trouble following God.
This is serious stuff.
When you get right down to the meat of it, Christians need to accept each other. We need to love each other, regardless of our backgrounds and our choice of clothing and our choice of music. And if you have doubts on whether or not someone is a Christian? Well . . . honestly . . . can you see their hearts?
If someone claims to be a Christian and knows all the answers, all you can do is take them at their word and let the truth of their actions tell the story. But if someone claims to be a Christian and you are a Christian, you need to accept each other and love each other and support each other. Because we’re family.
And, hey, we’re going to spend eternity together.