“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 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.” – Romans 14:1-3.
I don’t think there’s anybody who would deny that the greatest teacher that ever lived, the person who has impacted history more than all others is Jesus. Not just by how He lived, and not only by the resurrection, but His teaching. The last night before He died, Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34) “
Surely, Jesus didn’t mean to love everybody. Jesus’ expectations are a little too high. Jesus never saw the way people treated me in high school, or the way my friends abandoned me or the degrading way my boss treats me. If so, surely He’d know that it’s not so easy to love everybody.
But here is what we know: everyone is created in God’s image. So if we are worthy of love, so is everyone else because of who made them. Sin made us unloveable, but Christ changed the rules by offering love, grace and forgiveness (Romans 5:8). If God can love us, surely we can love those around us. Our commitment to accept one another transcends race and prejudices. We don’t have to agree with people that look or think differently. But we need to love them and we need to accept them.
Jesus accepted people unconditionally and indiscriminately. It didn’t matter what their gender was, it didn’t matter their race, didn’t matter their political persuasion, it didn’t matter if they were the worst of sinners. He was a magnet. People were drawn to Him because He did not judge them. You know why? Jesus was better than everybody else but He never treated anyone like He was better than them. He made every single person that came in contact with Him feel like they really mattered, even though they didn’t believe they mattered. Jesus did not place a standard on the kinds of people He would love and care for.
See, if you want to learn how to accept people, be like Jesus. Start by evaluating how you view others. It might be that to be more like Jesus, you have to look at people differently. Try to view people in light of eternity rather than their skin color, appearance, possessions, status, or behavior. Look at the presumption and prejudices you may be carrying against some people. Try to understand them better, try to unconditionally, indiscriminately accept each person and you will see compassion and empathy start to boil to the surface.
- Are there people or groups of people that we undervalue? Why?
- Do I only surround myself with people who think like me, act like me, or believe like me?
- Do I say I love people who are different from me, but never invite them into my life?
- Do I love first and judge second? Or vice-versa?
- What can I do this week to be more accepting of people?