Acceptance as a Means of Grace

“Acceptance is the most tangible outworking of grace- drawing near in relationship without condemnation.”  – John Burke 

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1 (NIV)

 When I read that verse of scripture I generally applied from Jesus to me.  I no longer have to live with any kind of guilt because through Christ’s blood I have been declared righteous in God’s sight. 

I also applied that verse to other Christians.  They are under no condemnation either.  They have been freed from guilt through the blood of Christ too.  I often have counseled other Christians that they do not need to live with guilt.  Christ took their punishment and wrath for their sin from God.  I also saw it as an offer to those outside of faith in Jesus.  They can have no condemnation in their life too.

 One place I haven’t applied this scripture is my personal condemnation of others.  What I mean is this.  I do not have an attitude of condemnation towards anyone because I am in Jesus Christ.  We read that and we say, “duh?”  But do we really practice it?  I was a sinner, worthy of the wrath of God, but only by Jesus have I been set free.  Because Jesus accepted me and loved me when I was unacceptable to him (or when I was worthy to be condemned he set me free) then I must have that same attitude towards others, including people I disagree with. 

You could flip that verse around with this application: “For those who are in Jesus Christ there is no condemnation.”  And to make the app more precise you could put it this way, “For those who are in Jesus Christ there is no attitude, no words of, no action taken of condemnation. 

Wow! 

Is that really true in my life?  Is that really true of Celebration Church?  Do I/we really believe in that radical form of grace?  For example:  If a practicing homosexual came to our church, would they hear condemnation or the grace of Jesus?  Is our church a safe place to consider Jesus?  If a couple living together comes would they hear condemnation or grace?  A couple divorcing?  A drug user?  An agnostic?  An adulterer?  A person who believes in the right of abortion?  Would they see me act with true acceptance?  Would they experience our church as a place of grace? 

Too often we think we win when we make our point, or win the argument, but that never is the case.  We win our point when we love others and accept others as Jesus did us.  God could win the argument every time, but instead decided to show us love.  As Christ’s body, are we not called to do the same?

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5 thoughts on “Acceptance as a Means of Grace

  1. I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say (next to last paragraph) “Would they see me act with true acceptance?” I definitely get the part about telling/showing them the Good News that Jesus loves them and we do too, etc., but what does “acceptance” mean in this situation?

    Thanks,
    Janet

  2. In writing this I believe I am confessing to a vulnerability. I think I am vulnerable to the trap (sin) of thinking it’s my job to make people acceptable- even though I could never make myself acceptable- and that tells people that I don’t accept them “as is.”

    Plus, I believe that attitude can lead me to hammer on what’s currently wrong in a person, rather than being excited about their steps toward Jesus and then encouraging the forward movement toward Christ-likeness. If a couple comes to church that’s living together do I focus that this is wrong or am I excited about the fact they are taking steps toward Jesus? And ona furthr note, do I trust Jesus enough to change their heart? Sometimes I want the change so bad I feel I can short circuit Jesus.

  3. I agree we need to resist judgmental attitudes towards others and be patient while the Lord works on their hearts. But I think the Bible makes some distinctions in how we are to treat wrong choices (sin) among believers vs. unbelievers. We shouldn’t expect “lost” people to act “saved”. But as far as people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, doesn’t the Bible teach us to confront our brother’s (sister’s) sin directly for the purpose of their good and the good of the assembly? What are your thoughts on this?

    1. I have two thoughts on your thoughts:}) First, many people say that we should not judge. I disagree. I believe I wrote another blog about that a long time ago. When Jesus talks about having the plank in your eye he is saying that you should take a long hard look at yourself before judging anyone else. When you do that we judge with much more compassion and patience. We are much easier on ourselves than we are on others. We are our brother’s keeper. We have a responsibility to each other.

      My second thought is how the confrontation is executed. In my experience it seems that Christians want to do the changing for people from the outside instead of allowing God to change them from the inside. I believe Paul’s instruction to Timothy is pertinent here, “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NIV 1984)

      Holiness is full of grace as well as truth. I believe we have a responsibility to do so as older Christians with younger Christians, but as I am being convicted as of late, my hope should in God granting them repentance, not in my ability to make them acceptable. In 1 Corinthians 3:6 Paul writes, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, and God made it grow.” So we plant the seed, and we can give the encouragement and provide the right environment (one of grace) for growth in our fellow Christians, but we are dependent on God to do the growing.

      Max Lucado coined a phrase many years ago that has always stuck with me, “God loves you just the way you are, but he doesn’t let you stay that way.” I believe the body of Christ is where life chnage into Christ-likeness is most productive. So there is a role for Christians to admonish and encourage eachother to holiness. I believe the execution of that role is very critical to people having a successful faith.

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