Accept or Except?
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7 ESV)
A recent book researched and released by The Barna Group, ‘Churchless’, reports that 43% of the American population is unchurched and the trend is moving away from attending places of worship. While I am not surprised by this statistic, I am saddened and concerned.
I haven’t read the book yet – I plan to in order to supplement my own book about ladies leaving the church – but I can only imagine what they’ve found. One thing that I’ve learned from listening to ladies who left Christian fellowships, is that it wasn’t typically disappointment or anger at God that ushered them out, but unhealthy interactions with other believers. Or at least with people who call themselves Christians. This is not new, (hello, ever hear of the Pharisees?) but I think back in the day, people stuck it out in church as it was expected of them. Now there are less family ties and pressures to do so.
But what if we actually were living, worshiping and interacting with each other the way God intended and the New Testament churches gave testimony to? Would that make a difference? I’d say so – big time.
A lot of today’s churches reflect more of a posh country club than the heart of Christ. The example found in Acts is rarely found. You know, people selling their stuff to help meet the needs of others, breaking bread together (and not just communion) accepting people for who they are . . . helping each other, and especially treating everyone as equals. God’s org chart is pretty simple. God is at the top, and we are all at the next level as his children of God.
I am so convicted even as I write this! I attend a very simple fellowship where we are striving to ‘get it right’. However, as an individual, I still struggle in my own heart to be of one mind, one accord and accept each extension of friendship without prejudice.
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God – that is just a God-stop. Christ – the Holy and perfect Son of God accepts us. Who do we think we are that we will say to the Lord, ‘Yes, I will accept others . . . except for . . .’
Father, oh how Your heart must break as You see Your people attack and reject each other. Forgive us for using the word ‘except’ when You’ve called us to ‘accept’. Fill us Holy Spirit in order that our hearts and minds would be transformed, giving us Your perfect love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.