“Accept one another, then,
just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.”
Accept: to receive with approval or favor, to welcome
Paul told the members of the church in Rome
to accept each other.
Which implies that the members of the church in Rome
were not accepting each other.
What was their problem?
To find out, we have to backtrack a bit, to Romans 14. It seems everybody was caught up in a debate about meat. Yes, meat. Specifically, meat that had been sacrificed to idols and then put up for sale in the marketplace. To eat this meat, or not to eat this meat — that was the burning question. The issue was dividing people and harming the church’s testimony in the community.
Paul called the believers out and said,
“You meat eaters, don’t look down on the ones who don’t eat meat.
You non-meat eaters, don’t condemn the meat-eaters.
Here’s the deal: God accepts both. So accept one another.”
(Romans 14:3, my paraphrase)
We don’t squabble about meat that is sacrificed to idols in our day. But we have our own “disputable matters” (Ro. 14:1). Plenty of them. Does Paul’s advice work if we substitute in our issues? Let’s put it to the test. (Words in italics are subbed in to the actual passage.)
The one who doesn’t wear a mask must not look down on the one who does, and the one who does wear a mask must not condemn the one who doesn’t, for God has accepted him. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. If your brother is distressed because you don’t wear a mask, you are no longer acting in love. Do not, by your choices, destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of masks. (Romans 14:3, 13, 15, 20)
Yep, it works.
Paul leveled the playing field with the reminder that
every one of us has been accepted by Christ.
In all my sin and shame and stupidity,
Christ welcomed me in.
In that spirit,
we are commanded to accept each other.
But if we insist on digging in our heels
and disputing over opinions,
we rob God of the praise He is due.
Father, forgive us.
Help us, Your children, to accept one another.
*Part five in a series on “The One Anothers”