Week 20: “Accept One Another”
Ask God to reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
C.S. Lewis spoke of a quest that drives people to be included in “The Inner Ring.” It could be at work, at school, at a social club, or even at church. These “rings” are not inherently bad; in fact, any group of people with a common story and struggle will form one. They are made into something bad, however, by our propensity to want to be included and to exclude others. Lewis said that the Inner Ring exists for the purpose of exclusion. It would not be meaningful to be an insider if there were no outsiders. The invisible line that forms the ring would have no meaning unless most people were on the wrong side of it. Exclusion is the essence of the Inner Ring and the quest to be “in” will ruin your heart unless you act decisively against this urge. The gospel both forms an Inner Ring and, at the same time, breaks down the barriers that divide people. In the church, all who are in Christ are in his “Ring” and they are to accept one another even as he has accepted them. So, in Christ, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). It is not that these cultural and gender distinctions don’t exist, but, rather, it is that they don’t divide people anymore because Christ has made them one. So, you are in Christ, included by him through faith into his Inner Ring and, therefore, you must not exclude anyone intentionally from your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t have close friends or that there won’t be people you like more than others; it simply means that you will “accept one another… just as Christ accepted you.” In your heart and in your home, you must make room for people you would not likely be friends with, apart from Christ in you. To accept one another in the way Paul intends is not merely to tolerate others, but it is to embrace them into your friendship. How has Christ accepted you? What conditions has he put on his acceptance? Did you clean up your act first? Did you become free of things that displease him? No, he accepted you as you are and then proceeded to help you become better than you are. This is how you are to accept one another. Take each other as you are, in order that each person will become far more than they are or even thought they could be. Others in Christ’s Inner Ring will likewise accept you as you are. You will find, and perhaps you already have, that some of your most treasured relationships are with people you would never have let into your “ring,” if Christ had not already let both of you into his.
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today.