Summary: Ten essential ministries of acceptance performed by the body of Christ
Ten Ways God's People Enhance Acceptance (Romans 15:6,7)
"Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory."
Many people struggle with depression feeling that they are not really important, useful or enjoy a sense of belonging to someone who loves them. As a result too many people in our society resort to harmful habits or people who promise but do not deliver genuine acceptance. Truly Biblical acceptance begins by understanding our acceptance is in Christ Jesus and then moves on to getting connected with loving Christians who accept them with an unconditional love that demonstrates all the elements of I Cor. 13 love. (Patient and kind...bearing all things, believing the best in everyone, hoping for the best, and enduring all ups and downs in relationships)
The following are some of the essential roles that the body of Christ plays in enhancing acceptance and an abiding sense of belonging that we all desperately need:
1. Connection - People's most basic need in life is relationship. People who are connected to other people thrive and grow and those not connected tend to wither and get depressed. (Heb. 10:24,25)
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Ask the Lord to help you gain a deep connection with certain members of the body of Christ through love, prayer and sharing goals in common. Many people are starved for connections and will respond if we ask, seek and knock and eventually the Lord will open the best doors of friendship to us. "The one who wants to have a friend must show himself to be a friend."
2. Discipline and Structure
Self-discipline is fruit of the Spirit that helps us overcome our fears of rejection through Spirit controlled love. (I John 4:18) There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear for fear involves punishment. We love because He first loved us." If you are disciplined in asking God to help you exhibit more of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control you will find a greater door to acceptance. If you lack a self-discipline or structure, ask someone to help you improve your discipline
Accountability helps us expose areas where we need to improve in our efforts to accept one another without being critical, judgmental or stand offish. It may seem daunting but ask someone to help hold you accountable for being more accepting, welcoming and tolerant of differences in the people around you. The Lord will also help convict you of mannerism and attitudes that project a lone wolf attitude that is unwelcoming to certain people through your behavior.
4. Support and Strengthening
Support is needed to help you learn to be more accepting so you can enhance the acceptance others feel toward you. Often times this means initiating conversation by asking people how they are doing. The best way to begin friendships is to take an interest in others needs, concerns and well being. When you show interests in others, they will normally reciprocate. When we face challenges that are beyond our normal strengths we need support and encouragement from others. (Phil. 2:1-5) is an excellent guideline in this process:
Have the Attitude of Christ
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
5. Choose Good Models Who are Not Critical
Romans 14:1-7 gives great insights into how to choose the best role models for learning how to accept others according to the freedom of individual conscience:
The Danger of Criticism
1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.