Rejection and acceptance are polar opposites. They make diametrically and supremely powerful life outcomes and destinies a reality for every single person. Rejection and acceptance experiences set us on the path to failure and hopelessness or success and confidence. This is probably the most profound concept known to humankind, beyond total God.
“Accept one another, then” says Paul, “just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” –Romans 15:7 (TNIV). It is more literally, “Therefore, receive one another, as also Christ received you to the glory of God.”
The key word is “receive,” or proslambanō in the original Koine Greek, which means “to receive kindly or hospitably” and “treat with kindness.” It means “to welcome” in the broadest sense. And therein lies the most resplendent and faith-held test of fruitfulness of the Christian person. It is this:
Can the person not only tolerate people, but extend the holiest sense of grace to them? This is a patient, peaceable approach with people, even in the presence of offence i.e. a resilient, abiding meekness. Of course, we all fail from time to time. But what is it we’re characterised by?
But, the issue of acceptance goes way beyond this. This verse is merely the concluding statement. We should know life doesn’t work for us or others unless there’s open levels of, and commitment to, unconditional acceptance—the acceptance represented in Christ’s dying for us whilst we were still sinners!
As Jesus accepts us warts ‘n’ all—when we don’t deserve God’s grace—we accept others without regard for warts, extending God’s grace to all in genuine kindness and authenticity, powered by the Holy Spirit.
But, it’s harder than that, isn’t it? Or is it? Of all the fancy theological jargon it doesn’t get any more complicated than loving others unconditionally—acceptance.
Some Christian people “fluff up” the faith making it sound so fandangled when it’s not—they delude themselves. Faith is a moral exercise. Remove morality from theology and we get a legalistic, crusty, hypocritical form of faith, which should not even be called “faith.” How can faith and injustice rightly co-exist in the same sentence? We’ve all experienced inauthentic Christianity.
In fact, we’re so experienced with inauthentic and crass people; we’re used to rejection in this world. And yet we too are inauthentic and crass, rejecting people—because we have been rejected and treated inauthentically and crassly. What comes around goes around.
The Spiritual life represents a flipping of rejection for acceptance, but in a twisted way.
The Holy Spirit-filled “powered” life is a paradoxically weak life. The spiritually-proud never get it. It’s a moral power we wield, and in Christ we wield it to the blessing of others—them first. We show our acceptance of others by esteeming them first, routinely.
This is an abhorrent power to the world. No one understands the motive, and they can’t when they’re devoid of Christ. The plain truth comes down to the fact that all people are far more expectant of rejection than they are of acceptance—a sad reality that is; even in many families.
The profoundest issue is this: if God accepts our fellows we have no right to reject them. It is therefore the key part of our purpose in this life to accept all people for who they are. This means we do not take offence. And in the process of all this, the glory for our graciously humble acts goes to the One who saved us even when we were (and often are) an offence to him!
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.