Listen to The Daily Word online.
In the Christian worldview, there are no exceptions to acceptance.
This was a novel principle in the first-century intellectual milieu in which Jesus Christ was born. Jews distinguished between themselves and the Gentiles. Romans distinguished between citizens and non-citizens, between the freeborn and slaves. Greeks distinguished between themselves and barbarians. These various groups might interact, but they did not think of themselves as equals in any way. They did not accept one another.
Jesus Christ broke down the racial, religious, and cultural barriers people erected against one another. He accepted all people in order to give them all God’s gift of salvation. He did this by means of the cross. Consider what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2.14-16:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
In Romans 15.7-12, Paul refers to Christ as the model accepter, whose example we should follow:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing hymns to your name” [2 Samuel 22.50, Psalm 18.49].
Again, it says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people” [Deuteronomy 32.43].
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and sing praises to him, all you peoples” [Psalm 117.1].
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
the Gentiles will hope in him” [Isaiah 11.10].
Because of the social situation of the early church, Paul focuses on the need for Jewish and Gentile Christians to accept one another. In the Roman church, which was a mixed church, numerous opportunities to erect barriers existed. Should Christians eat kosher or not? Should they observe the Sabbath or not? Most of these potential barriers existed because of the religious and cultural differences between Jews and Gentiles.
But as far as Paul was concerned, none of those barriers should be erected in the church. Rather, we should accept one another. And if Christ crossed over the barrier of sin that divides us from God, destroyed it, gave us the grace of our Heavenly Father and the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit to reform our spiritual and moral lives, how could we do otherwise? If Christ is a barrier-destroying accepter of people, shouldn’t we be too?
Obviously, we should never accept sinful behavior. But when it comes to sinful people, there truly are no exceptions to acceptance.