Acceptance Of Others & Our Discomfort
How to love the people in our life that whose life choices and convictions are in opposition to the truth we believe.
All of us have specific categories of sin which we see in others that make accepting the people who commit these wrongdoings challenging for us to accept. For instance let's take one that is particularly egregious that might bring up all sorts of issues for people: a sex offender. You may have other categories that are particularly troublesome for you, which because of your past experiences or personal convictions make it hard even to have a relationship with someone who has committed that offense. And let's agree that sin, hatred, and evil is an ugly thing, and its consequences bring great suffering, sorrow, and pain to us and others.
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How do we accept those who have done what is unacceptable to God and us?
Remember that you are not accepting their behavior, but you are accepting them as a human being created by God despite their failings. God doesn't agree with their behavior (or our shortcomings) and neither should we. But (and that's a "big but"), God also loves us and accepts us like children who are in need of an Accepting Father. If this were not true, not one of us would be members of his family since we are all offenders in some form. To address this God sent his son, Jesus, who came to save offenders (that's you and me), whom he loved but could not have a relationship with Him because of the ramifications of our offenses. Thus accepting God's love and the truth is the first step in a renewed relationship with God, and one step at a time our behaviors should follow.
What attracted the lost and the broken to Jesus?
It was his gracious acceptance of them as a person in spite of the nature of their offenses. Jesus looked beyond the crimes of humanity to lonely broken hearts that needed acceptance. He had compassion not only for the individual but for the consequences of their wrongdoing. Jesus loved to heal broken people and provide them with a path to wholeness. In fact, there is no brokenness that he cannot forgive and heal.
Speaking of the ministry of Jesus 800 years before the incarnation, the prophet Isaiah said this about His ministry in Isaiah 53:.4-6.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
It is through the acceptance of other people that we gain a hearing with them and in us they experience what it means to be accepted by Jesus. Acceptance is a universal need of every individual. We all need those who will love and accept us for who we are and in spite of our sin. I love to meet people of grace who because of Jesus' love accept even the most egregious sinner. It is a life changing experience. And people are desperate for it.
Accepting others appropriately is a sign of our spiritual maturity.
Why? Because it's hard. Because it's messy. Because it's not convenient. Because we have to understand sin we simply don't prefer, like, or agree with. But it's a sign of our spiritual maturity because we are never more like Jesus than when we accept a person whose life is counter our convictions and yet maintain our conviction about the truth and love them unconditionally.
Today, think about one person that God has put across your path that you can show the love and acceptance of Jesus and try it, even if it is uncomfortable. The discomfort will leave once you see how much your love is appreciated.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.