This week I’m preaching in a meeting at Wellandport, Ontario, Canada. Last night a lady walked out of the building, shook my hand and wistfully commented, “I wish more people could have been here to have heard that sermon.”
The building was almost full. But I believe she was commenting more on the importance of the message preached than the messenger who delivered it. Or the number who attended.
Our theme this week has been “Building Better Relationships.” Last night we discussed our relationship in the church family and talked about “Accepting One Another.”
In a section where Paul discusses various relationships in the Christian’s life he exhorts, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Rom 15:7).
The word “accept” in this text means “to receive.” “To take as one’s companion; to take by the hand and lead.” “To grant access to one’s heart; to take into friendship.”
To accept our brother and sister in Christ is not just to begrudgingly put up with them. It is not just to belong to the same church, but having nothing to do with them. It is to welcome them; to extend to them the right hand of fellowship; to extend to them the same prerogatives and privileges you would to others in the same relationship.
While we should accept everyone that belongs to God’s Family, let’s consider some that we might tend to exclude.
(1) Accept the Weak in the Faith (Rom. 14:1).
We are all in a different place in our spiritual journey. For various reasons, some are weaker than others. Paul speaks of those who believed it was wrong to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. While it was neither right or wrong, they were entrusted to be accepting of brethren whose scruples would not permit it.
Today there are a host of issues that brethren may feel differently about. Those stronger in the faith should not disparage the weak. Or be insensitive to their feelings. Or do anything to wound their conscience. Accept them.
(2) Accept Others who are different from us. (Gal. 3:26-29)
We are all one in Christ. The church is composed of people from varying racial, ethnic and social groups. There is no place for racism in the Body of Christ. Or exclusion. Or elitism.
(3) Accept Restored Christians (Gal 6:1-2)
Those who have fallen away should be restored with the attitude of meekness. And restored in the same way in the immoral of Corinth was to be received when he repented (2 Cor 2:3-8). Kindness, compassion, and comfort. Accept them
(4) Accept New Christians.
Those who have recently obeyed the gospel are just beginning their journey of faith. They have a lot to learn. Changes to make. And growing spiritually that will take time. Rejoice in their obedience. Be charitable with their mistakes. And be patient with their growth.
(5) Accept Transfers.
We live in a very mobile society. People move from one part of the country to another. Or to another country. Customs vary. Accents are different. Traditions are diverse. The specifics and order of scriptural worship are not the same everywhere. Let’s learn to accept one another regardless of the differences. And remember that we are more alike than we are different.
The text reminds us that we accept one another because Christ has accepted us. We have been welcomed into a relationship with Him. Forgiven of our sins. And made an heir of salvation. Thus, we need to accept one another.
Accepting one another is the mark of a healthy spiritual family. We all share a common faith, are joined by a common love, and sustained by a common hope. This understanding greatly aids in fostering unity in the Body of Christ.
Sometimes accepting one another is difficult and demanding, but it can be accomplished when we follow the dictates of Scripture in Romans 14 and 15.
Avoid passing judgment on a weaker brother.
Commit yourself to live for Christ.
Control your attitudes and emotions with love.
Edify everyone you can.
Privately hold to your personal convictions.
Treasure people like Jesus did.
Dissension, discord, and disunity do not glorify God. Accept one another.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman