Accepting one another

A word from the pastor

The theme for the month: "Accept one another… as Christ accepted you" is easier said than done, especially if one is speaking of "unconditional acceptance" of each other as I believe Paul would have us do. When I think of our Lord describing the Pharisees as "hypocrites" and a "brood of vipers", or when I consider what he did in the temple with the whip of cords, I am not so sure. Yet Jesus died for the Pharisees and the money-changers too! So how do we appropriate this advice from Paul for ourselves or for our congregation?

Very often our acceptance of people who are different, whether that means in faith and belief, in culture and tradition, in morals and values, or in any other aspect, tends to have more to do with tolerating them rather than embracing them. Because embracing such people, especially if they are difficult, violates the secure "comfort zone" we've built around ourselves. Just tolerating them is easier because we're at a safer distance from them and we don't have to do anything. We can smile and say our sweet "hellos" and remain untouched. Yet Jesus allows others to deliberately breach his "space" so that God's love could touch those who remain on the outside. This is what Paul is encouraging us to do as well. However, touching each other with such love does not mean a mere passive acceptance of people as they are, but an active encouragement of change for the better — which may perhaps include us! Accepting one another means we cannot ignore one another any longer. We have to find time for one another, be available, be supportive, be ready to guide. This is how I understand our Lord's command: "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two." (Matthew 5:41)

Christ has accepted us as we are, with all our prejudices, our blemishes, our warts. But through the Holy Spirit he continually loves and encourages us, guides and corrects us, and sometimes even lovingly admonishes us. May we then also learn to truly "accept one another as Christ accepted us"!

By: Pastor Romesh Modayil, e-mail:
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