What Is Acceptance?
So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. – Matthew 22:10
The king had sent out a save the date announcement about his son’s upcoming wedding. Preparations were made and time went by, but the invited were to keep their eyes open and be ready.
When all was set, the king sent word…and none of the invited came. So, Matthew 22:10 above tells of the king’s next command to his servants being executed – go and invite anyone you can find.
Good and bad, they were brought in and the wedding hall was filled.
This is a picture of a God who meets us where we are; He demonstrates acceptance.
As part of the character of God, acceptance is then supposed to become part of our demonstrated character. Because of both our pride and the culture we live in, we get confused about what acceptance is.
Acceptance is not to be confused with approval.
Approval calls brokenness wholeness. It redefines the terms, and creates a man-based standard. It is simply doing what is right in our own eyes, and is a way to try to create wholeness apart from God. Approval of brokenness is a product of the false self.
Because of the inherent worth we all have a image bearers of God, every person merits being accepted by followers of Christ and those that lead them. But, we are each in a broken state. When we accept another we understand that person is broken and is prone to try to create wholeness apart from God.
With that lens, a relationship can be forged or the person can be ministered to. God loves each of us too much to approve of (and allow us to settle for) our false self. It is He who makes things grow.
Acceptance is meeting the person where they are.
The ability to accept comes from a compassionate heart. Acceptance is not forgetting from where you came.
The person who accepts dispenses the grace and mercy of Christ they themselves have received.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – Romans 15:7
Paul knew this would be difficult, particularly since we build identities apart from God that are built up by comparison.
Being accepting means seeing the other’s brokenness and loving them anyway. Realizing they are a product of their relational system that has affected the way they relate to the world around them.
Acceptance requires us to offer forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13
One of our tendencies, born out of our pride, is that we lose sight of our own brokenness. Rather than grace and mercy, we end up dispensing judgment and condemnation. For us, it is a reminder that in everything – leadership, relationship, discipleship – we must be centered in Christ.
Then we can forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.
Who in your relational world needs you to be more accepting? How can you demonstrate acceptance to them?
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