A blessed Autumn Day to all,
In the past, I mentioned the three “A” of bible reading. That was to read where the text was “at”,what was “above” and what came “after”. Taking all three into account helps the reader maintain a better grip on context of what they are reading.
I wanted to go over three other “A” with you. They are to “acknowledge”; “to approve”; and to “accept” A brief explanation of these words are as follows:
To accept: To receive willingly.
To acknowledge: the act of showing that you know, admit, or accept that something exists or is true.
To approve: To regard something as proper or right. This word is pretty much interchangeable with affirming and agreeing.
In the context of our relationships with others and how we welcome people to our church, these words need to be examined if only because a common understanding may help in our intentionality to reach others for Christ and to avoid miscommunications.
In regards to acceptance, Paul writes in Romans 15:7, [Therefore, accept one another; just as Christ also accepted us, for the glory of God.] When we consider that God created every person and that Christ died for them, we receive them willingly. Our first steps in connecting are based on the acceptance of a person. We don’t look to their actions, but to the reality of who they are, a creation of God fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
Acknowledging someone means we validate, or recognize their experiences. This includes noticing their pain. It doesn’t require an analysis of their life; providing a solution to their struggles; or making a value
judgment. It simply means “I see you; I hear you”. Acknowledging someone’s reality doesn’t mean we reject them or agree with their decisions or beliefs. Acknowledgment does however, allows us to step into their lives and love them where they are at the moment. Approval or agreement means that we have determined a person’s current life choices are in sync with what God desires from His creations.
Therefore, we can surmise that there is a difference between acceptance and agreement (or approval). We can love someone in the manner that Christ prescribes (acceptance) without affirming, approving, or agreeing with their life choice convictions.
A false dichotomy (either-or) that is promoted and practiced in some circles is that to accept or acknowledge someone MUST mean we agree, approve, or affirm their choices. That is simply not the case. Jesus loved everyone and died for them. Romans 5:8 states, (But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for all.) Yet, Jesus called on people to repent (turn around) indicating He did not approve of their current life choices.
Let’s not get sucked down an illogical or deceitful rabbit hole. Let’s practice the model left for us in the Scriptures. We love, accept others, regardless of where they are at in the moment. We acknowledge their value as God’s creation, regardless of whatever their current reality may be. And we gently and lovingly convey that while God loves them, there may be a disharmony between the life ethics He expects in His children and the ethics a person is currently practicing. We can accept, acknowledge and love, without necessarily agreeing with everything in a person’s life.
Have a blessed November/December,
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Join us Sunday December 5th for the perfect, imperfect story. It’s the night of the big Christmas pageant and Pastor Richard’s stage is set to impress with a choir, orchestra, live animals, and the perfect baby Jesus. But when snowplows, bus breakdowns, and colicky babies unravel the evening’s performance, Pastor Richard learns that the true Christmas story isn’t about the pageantry. It’s about that dark and silent night when everything went wrong until, miraculously, everything became right.