Summary: One of the keys to learning to accept one another is to attempt to treat each person as if they are Jesus.
A. The story is told of an old, disheveled cleaning woman who visited a local church one day.
1. When the invitation was given at the end of the service, she went forward wanting to become a member.
2. The preacher listened as she told him how she believed in Jesus and wanted to be baptized.
3. The preacher thought to himself, “Oh my, she is so unkempt, she even smells a little, and her fingernails are not clean. She picks up garbage, cleans toilets - what would the members think of her.”
4. He told her that she needed to go home and pray about it for a while before she was baptized.
5. The following week, here she came again during the invitation.
6. She told the preacher that she had prayed about it and still wanted to be baptized.
7. Again the preacher told her to go home and pray some more.
8. A few weeks later while out eating at the restaurant, the preacher saw the little old lady.
9. He did not want her to think that he was ignoring her so he approached her and said, “You have not been back to church for a while. Is everything all right?”
10. “Oh, yes,” she said. “I talked with Jesus, and he told me not to worry about becoming a member of your church.”
11. “He did?” said the preacher a little shocked.
12. “Oh, yes,” she replied. “Jesus said even He hasn’t been able to get into your church, and He’s been trying for years.”
B. Let’s start with a probing question: Do you think that Jesus is welcome here at Wetzel Road?
1. How welcoming and accepting of others are we as a church?
2. Now, I want to think that we are pretty welcoming and accepting, and I hope that we are.
3. But I know this: We cannot experience real Christian community without the ability to accept one another.
4. So, let’s spend some time with the command to accept each other, and come to understand what it means to do so, and then let’s examine ourselves to see if there isn’t some room in our hearts and lives for some growth in this matter.
I. The Instruction – Accept One Another
A. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (NIV)
1. The key word is “accept” which is the Greek word proslamban.
2. It means “to receive kindly or hospitably” and “to treat with kindness.
3. It means “to welcome” in the broadest sense.
4. It means “to receive wholeheartedly, to warmly welcome to yourself, to grant admission into your heart, to look beyond anything superficial and to be willing and open to build relationships.”
5. Acceptance means to welcome someone who is different from you.
6. Can we not only tolerate people, but extend the holiest sense of grace to them?
7. Can we express a resilient and abiding meekness to others even in the presence of that which is distasteful and offensive?
8. Can we do that?
B. The key phrase for understanding and practicing this command is the phrase, “just as Christ accepted you.”
1. Christ is our standard – we are to accept others just as He accepted us.
2. And how did Christ accept us?
3. According to Romans 5:8 the Bible says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
4. It was and is Jesus’ nature to love the unlovable.
5. His loving acceptance is able to distinguish who we are from what we have done.
6. Even in our sin, we are still the objects of His love.
C. The purpose for this command to accept each other is so that we can “bring praise to God.”
1. As we become, more and more, the church we ought to be, the world will notice.
2. When they walk into our fellowship, they will sense that something is different here, and they will go home thinking, “I want what they have; I want to be a part of what is going on there.”
3. They will go home praising God, saying that God is in that place; God is among those folks.
4. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn. 13:34-35)
5. Jesus said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (Jn. 17:23)
6. When people know that God loves them, because we love them, then they will bring praise to God.