Summary: We are to accept one another in Christ

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I believe most of us are young enough to remember Karen Carpenter. One of her well-loved songs is “Love Me For What I Am.” The chorus goes like this: “You’ve got to love me / For what I am / For simply being me / Don’t love me / For what you intend / Or hope that I will be.”[1] It seems to me those are not just lyrics to a song. It appears she struggled with acceptance. One time she lamented, “We spent an awful lot of time trying to achieve perfection as close as we can come. It’s the foremost thing in our minds, at all times.”[2] She died at a very young age of 32 due to complications related to an eating disorder. Someone wrote, “She was sweet, but kept her emotions inside. She was the kind of person who would take care of other people, but not herself. They called her a living skull, and a tormented and unhappy woman.”[3] Rejection can be fatal.

In his book “Connecting,” Dr. Larry Crabb wrote that we experience God’s power to heal souls through our compassionate, authentic relationships with others. “What every Christian can pour into another is the powerful passion of acceptance, a passion that flows out of the center of the gospel, a passion that fills the heart of God.”[4] That’s why we are commanded in Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”[5] Every “one another” command has a context. This time, “accept one another” fits Romans 14:1 to 15:13. For this month, based on this passage, we will talk about “Accepting the ‘Different’”. I came up with an acronym, A-C-C-E-P-T. This morning, we will focus on the first point, ACCEPT one another in Christ.

The verb “Accept” means “to receive wholeheartedly, to warmly welcome them to yourself, to grant admission into your heart, to look beyond anything superficial and to be willing and open to build relationships.”[6] In short, to love people just as they are, not for what we intend or hope that they would be. According to David Ferguson’s “Never Alone Church,” “We all have a deep relational need for others to accept us for who we are”. It’s not only Karen Carpenter who longed for acceptance. Let me cite two more. Madonna is called by the Guinness Book of Records as the “World’s Most Successful Female Musician.” According to Forbes magazine, she is the top earning female singer in the world with an estimated net worth of over $325 million.[7] But she lamented in Vogue magazine, “My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. That’s always been pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become somebody, I still have to prove that I’m SOMEBODY. My struggle has never ended, and it probably never will.”[8] Oprah Winfrey is ranked as the richest African American woman of the 20th century and, some even say, the most influential woman in the world.[9] But she confessed that, “I discovered I didn’t feel worth a damn, and certainly not worthy of love, unless I was accomplishing something. I suddenly realized I have never felt I could be loved just for being.”[10]

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