Have you noticed how easy it is to offend people these days? There seems to be such an overt need to accept and to be accepted that we go overboard with the “correctness” of our words and behavior lest we hurt anyone’s feelings at any time. Now, being accepting of others is a good thing, but is it the most important thing? Should we willingly lay all other principles and standards upon the altar of mutual acceptance? Are we compelled to accept the world the way it is without regard to the good we have gleaned from the way it was? How did Jesus do it? He certainly spent time with the sinners of his day but was it at the cost of higher principles? Did Jesus actually “hang out” with sinners? Was his time with them to make them feel good or accepted? What is God’s role in all of this? If we want a relationship with God, does He accept us as we are or is there more to it?
Let’s start with the basic truth that both God and Jesus love us. Ample evidence of this is displayed in the Bible in many different ways. To begin with, God’s love was expressed for the first man and woman in the environment He gave them – the Garden of Eden. It was beautiful, alive and perfect. You don’t give a gift like that to someone you dislike! Second, God gave them rules to live by. Any parent worth their salt knows that children need guidance, and without it they will not know how to stand or what to stand for. Of course,Adam sinned and messed up the loving gift and guidelines he was given and needed consequences for his actions. He got those consequences – again – because God loved him. Adam’s sin did not lessen God’s love, but it did change how God would manifest it.
Enter Jesus. The consequence for sin was death, and that could only be reversed through a just transaction, which again is a sign of love. We know Jesus loves us because he became that transaction and gave his life as a ransom price for Adam. He willingly suffered and died as a man to buy back the consequences of that original sin. So, what we see here are multiple evidences of love towards humanity from heaven. This love is big, it is powerful and it is everlasting, but it is not the whole story. We now need to figure out how acceptance fits into this masterful and benevolent love.
Just because you love someone does not mean you accept them. At face value, this sounds contradictory and sounds like it demeans the power of love. After all doesn’t love mean acceptance? Love meaning acceptance is probably one of the most important misunderstandings to correct for the sake of our everyday lives. Grasping the truth on this can truly alter the way we see life on so many levels. Love does not necessarily mean acceptance. Knowing and living this needs lots of support and explanation. To make it clear, please check out our June 26, 2017 podcast, “Does God Accept Us As We Are?” for the details, the examples and the all important applications. Learning how love and acceptance interact is a critical life skill you cannot afford to be without. Get started!