Friday, March 22
Once we realize God’s love and acceptance of us and we begin to accept ourselves, it is natural for that acceptance to flow out of us towards others. We are called to walk in the footsteps of Christ, who loved and accepted, not just the people it was easy to love, but all people. The gospels tell us that Jesus reached out and spent his time with those who were outcasts, those who were poor, those who suffered from all kinds of diseases, both physical and mental. Jesus also spent his time with people who didn’t always treat him well. His closest friends, the disciples, misunderstood him and betrayed or deserted him. Yet his faithfulness to them never wavered; he still loved and accepted them without any conditions.
In these relationships, Christ modeled for us what it means to truly love someone. It is impossible to love someone without accepting her, for you cannot fully welcome and embrace a person while hoping that they will change. Accepting someone means that you love them today, just as they are, with all of their strengths and all of their weaknesses.
This is the kind of acceptance that we are called to practice as a community of faith. Not just to welcome and accept those with whom we agree, or those whom it is easy to love, but also (and perhaps especially) those with whom we don’t see eye to eye. As Pastor David wrote, in his devotional several weeks ago, we are called to be a church of extravagant welcome, engaging and embracing ALL as beloved children of God.
How might we become a more welcoming community? What expectations might we need to let go of? How might we show each person who walks through our doors that they are loved and accepted exactly as they are? How might you challenge yourself to show acceptance of someone with whom you don’t see eye to eye?