Summary: Accepting others made in God’s image and redeemed by Christ’s death is an essential consequence of our being accepted by Christ.
Invocation: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you."
These words, "accept one another" are exactly the words we need to hear. We need to hear these because we all come short of knowing how to accept the people God made in his own image.
Thankfully, we all know the acceptance of our Lord Jesus Christ. In these words from St. Paul we are assured, beyond any doubt, of Christ’s loving acceptance when he tells us to "accept one another just as Christ accepted you."
There is no question that Christ accepts each and every one of us, not because of who we are, but because of who he has made us to be in Holy Baptism: his holy people. There is no doubt that Christ has worked heavenly acceptance for us by shedding his blood on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. There is no doubt, that he has washed us in his blood and claimed us as his own in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Knowing we have been accepted in love and grace by our Lord Jesus Christ, today we are faced with the challenge of accepting one another.
Paul said, "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you." Accept one another. He doesn’t ask us to change each other. God doesn’t ask us to ignore each other. There is no heavenly call to avoid one another or divide ourselves up into cliques or groups or factions. Certainly, God does not call on us to betray, belittle, and slander one another, and thereby reveal our hatred or distaste for other people of God.
And yet we do all these things. We break every law in the second table of the the ten commandments and we do not love one another as we love ourselves. How serious is this sin?
At this time, unlike the middle of the 19th century there is no large scale conflict among Americans. North and south no longer engage in a civil war. We know, after another year of banal war of words between the political parties, there will be relative peace even in the political arena.
Lucky for us since we are a small communion, the Baptists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and the Orthodox are not beating down our doors or threatening us with guns. And for that we can all be thankful.
But there are divisions among Christians and they are serious even if there is no blood letting.
Someone looks a little different, or sounds different, and we just don’t talk to them. Someone makes you uncomfortable because you’ve had a confrontation with them in the past, well, we won’t be sitting on the same side of church they sit on, or sitting in the same church.
As you look through church ads, nearly every church trumpets the idea that they are "friendly" and describe themselves as a family. The Christian family, if a family at all, is dysfunctional. I can remember a decade or two when I thought it possible there would be reunion among Christians. Now I’m nearly in despair at my efforts to bring people in the Anglican tradition together.