“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.
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?