Today’s message is about acceptance. We live in a world where it seems like everyone wants to live in a bubble in which only those who look, feel, act, and talk the same are allowed in. There seems to be very little acceptance of those who are different or who believe differently. That’s what I want to talk about today, the concept of Acceptance.
I want to answer some questions. How can we learn to accept those who are different from us? What if a person has done something to us? Are there times when we should not be accepting? How can I accept all of life’s circumstances? What should I do if others don’t accept me?
How can we learn to accept someone who is different than we are? There’s an old saying about walk a mile in another’s shoes, it simply means to try and look at life through their eyes. We live in a global community, regardless of how some folks want to pretend that we don’t, so try to understand the other person’s culture. It’s natural for us to want to be around those who are like us, and sometimes we have a tendency to judge others based on our own biases. In Matthew 9:11-12, we read about an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees. Jesus was meeting with some folks that the upper crust of Jewish society looked down upon. “ When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus knew that in order for his message to be heard, it had to be shared with those who are different. Today we tend to look down upon those who hang out with folks that are not special, or not as well off as we are. Heck, in today’s society, many democrats won’t accept republicans, republicans reject democrats, liberals and conservative are against each other and so on. Heck, I know folks who have stopped talking to me because I don’t agree with their politics. This sickness is very prevalent in today’s cancel society, if you write or say something that some folks don’t like they will yell and scream and do their best to silence you. So how should WE act if someone does something we don’t like?
What if a person has done something to us? What if somebody calls us a name, or tries to cancel us? How should we react? The one thing we cannot do is allow their action to poison our soul. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of isolating ourselves from our neighbors. In Romans 8:38-39, we find “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now I realize that none of us have the ability to show unlimited love and care for our neighbors, but we can all attempt to understand what others are going through. Over the years, I’ve found that most often when someone is criticizing me about something, it’s because they see themselves in one way or another. Other times some folks are just very self-righteous, and they truly believe it’s their way or the highway. When we encounter people like that all we can do is care for them and be there for them. If they never come around, at least our conscience will be clear. But are there times when we shouldn’t really accept someone?
Are there times when we should not be accepting? I do think there are some moments and times when we shouldn’t accept what is happening. We should never accept injustice in any form. When people are hurting children we should step in and do our best to stop them. For some reason we have become almost numb to how poorly we treat each other. You can see it all the time, we look down on the homeless, we get angry over little things, we have a tough time accepting life.
How can I accept all of life’s circumstances? Life is unpredictable and how we react to life’s little changes and challenges says a lot about us as humans and especially us as Christians. Remember the story of Job? He had it all and then it fell apart quicker than a cheap suit. His family died, he lost his property, life became a mess and his wife was after him to renounce his faith in God. But Job wanted nothing to do with that, in Job 2:10 we read, “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” American Christians seem to be afflicted with what I call the “God is good when I get what I want” syndrome. Unfortunately, many begin to despair when things start to go bad, or they hit a rough spot. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, some folks do know that they need to keep the faith. Think about the early church members, both men and women. For the first 300 years they suffered for their faith, they were persecuted, they were not the official church of anything. The only thing they had going for them was their faith, they knew it would keep them going. In Hebrews 10:34, “ For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one” The history of the Jewish people and the early Christians showed a people who did their best to remain firm in their faith, because they believed in God. They believed in the promises that God has made, and one of those promises is that regardless of what we encounter on this earth if we keep the faith, then we have an eternal reward awaiting us. Now there are many who don’t believe in that, and that is their right, I refuse to reject them even though they often don’t accept me or others like me who believe as I do. So the final area I want to talk about is just that.
What should I do if others don’t accept me? Let’s be real, there are going to be folks who just don’t want to open their hearts and minds to us. That is their right. I always try to remember that even when others here on earth don’t accept me, God does. As a follower of the resurrected Christ, I have nothing to fear about life. Oh sure, I am also a human, so I sometimes have my doubts, it’s just that I know I believe I am part of something much greater than myself. As it is written in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and [a]the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Jesus was rejected by a whole bunch of people who didn’t accept his teachings, and yet he never gave up. So there’s no sense in me getting all worked up over every little thing, especially when someone doesn’t what to accept me or what I believe. It’s their loss, not mine.
When we go through life it’s important to remember that we can learn to accept those who are different from us, stop and listen to them. Try to understand where they’re coming from? If a person has done something to us, forgive them, in many cases they don’t even know they did anything wrong. We don’t have to accept injustice, no matter what our politicians say, some things are just wrong and need to be rejected. Life full of ups and downs, how many times we get bucked out of our saddle, is not as important as to how many times we get back up. If someone rejects you, remember God won’t reject you and frankly, if it’s another human well, that’s their loss.
When you’re being challenged in your wanting to accept something or someone, try this prayer. Dear Lord Jesus, today I am unsure of what’s going on around me. Sometimes I feel as if everyone is rejecting me and they just won’t accept what I am doing or how I am. Please help me to understand that you will never reject me and you will always be there for me, and you will keep me strong. Thank you. Amen
See you next week – peace and god bless