“Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you…”

 

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Lesley Grindrod, contributor for today’s blog post

I don’t know why my mind works this way, but when I’m studying a Bible verse, my attention is often drawn away from the ‘main topic’ (in this case ‘accepting one another’) to a part of the verse I hadn’t considered before. This time what drew my attention was the phrase “just as Christ accepted you.

Usually when we talk about ‘accepting’ in church, we’re talking about how we accepted Christ. Have you ever given your testimony and said, ‘I accepted Jesus as a child,’ or ‘I accepted Christ aged 21’?  By that language we mean that we’ve received Him into our hearts, in the sense that we’ve owned Him as our only hope of salvation.

But in this verse Paul says our conduct as believers should be controlled not so much by our accepting Christ, but by Christ accepting us! In fact, He sees Christ’s accepting us as key for how we get along with one another; of how life should look in the local church. We are to accept one another in light of the fact that Christ has already accepted us.

Paul knew that getting along with one another was going to be tough. It would mean working hard at being gracious, loving, forgiving. Yet still he wrote this great exhortation: ‘Accept one another!’ The Greek word he used is proslambanō which literally means ‘welcome, embrace and receive into your hearts.’ But he knows that acceptance, real acceptance is never easy. So he says, ‘Accept one another, and do it because you remember that Jesus accepted you.

accept-one-another (1)And he goes even further! He says we glorify God by accepting one another, because Christ glorified God by accepting us. That is phenomenal – that you are doing the work of glorifying God when you accept brothers and sisters in the Lord who are different from you!

Paul knew the church was made up of widely different individuals. It was diverse – people with varied ideas about life; from different countries, cultures and social/economic backgrounds. They were not the kind of people that would’ve just naturally drawn together. And it’s just the same today. The church isn’t a collection of people that are like one another naturally, politically or socially, but a complete mish-mash of all sorts of people, many of whom are really different.

Paul says it’s precisely our accepting of one another in spite of our diversity, that brings glory to God. When the world is looking in at the Church and saying, “How in the world do those people get along so well? They’re not like one another. Some are rich and some are poor. Some have tremendous family pedigrees, some don’t. Some have been following this Saviour since childhood, some since only yesterday. They all get along; they have some common bond, but it’s definitely not their background. It’s not that they’re socially or even politically alike!”

And it’s that wonderful acceptance, in the midst of our diversity, that brings great glory to God.

 

 

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GRIEVE WITH ONE ANOTHER

VICKY PHOTO

VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post

There are many seasons to life as Ecclesiastes says:

“A time to tear down, a time to build

A time to weep and a time to laugh

A time to mourn and a time to dance”3:3-4

Some seasons it can be easy to “one another” in, sharing laughter is fairly straight forward and dancing together can be a time of great joy (or more laughter if you have two left feet).

However one anothering through a time to mourn is much more of a challenge. I seem to be in a place where, although not mourning myself, I have been journeying with a variety of people who are. So I thought I would share some of my reflections on this with you.

First of all, when I talk of grieving and mourning I am reflecting on a whole variety of experiences- not just bereavement. Life can bring us a variety of challenges: loss of a parent, divorce, grieving for children we never had, giving up dreams of lives we will never lead, the sadness of children far from God, the breakdown of relationships and ill health. All of these are things to weep over and mourn.

First thing I would says is that it is okay to be in this season, I think often as Christians we feel we have to be joyful (as in happy) all the time and can seem lost if our Christian brothers and sisters do not display this constantly too. Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus and mourned with Mary and Martha. Of all people, Jesus knew they would be reunited in heaven. Jesus knew that He would bring Lazarus back to life very shortly. But in that moment of shock, horror, and the wrongness of death, He came along side the sisters and wept with them. This should strongly encourage us to grieve and weep with one another. This doesn’t show a lack of trust in the resurrection but is an expression of the pain and loss we feel and the jarring of our fallen world. Deep in our hearts we know it was not meant to be this way.

The pain of separation and the agony of missing someone is not less just because you know you will be reunited one day, and we should draw alongside people as they go through this; not rushing them through it for our own comfort, but pointing them to Jesus as He grieves with them.

People also grieve over situations- be it the state of the world, family breakdowns or people turning from God. Again we can look to Jesus for support of how we can one another each other at these times.

In Luke 19:41 Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and He wept over it. He was grieving. He used words familiar to us all in our own lives “If you had only known…” This shows God himself gets upset over situations and relationship breakdown. In this instance it was the relationship between God and His people which had been destroyed. So we can bring these situations to Him in prayer and weep with one another. But Jesus also shows us that there is always hope: for out of Jerusalem was saved a remnant of people in the city who were lost but repented and were changed. From the darkest day of the cross a new world order was born.

So when you journey with people at these difficult times, weep with them, mourn with them and cry out to God. But remember the hope that is in Jesus and that this season too will pass.

ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER: A STORY BY REBECCA MANLEY PIPPERT

ROMANS 157Rebecca Manley Pippert concludes her book, Out of the Salt Shaker & into the World [IVP, 1979], pp. 177-178) with this story. When she first went to Portland, Oregon, to work with a campus ministry, she met a student named Bill. He was always dishevelled in his REBECCA MANLEY PIPPERTappearance and he never wore shoes. Rain, sleet, or snow, Bill was always barefoot.

“Bill became a Christian, but his appearance didn’t change. Near the campus was a church made up of mostly well-dressed, middle-class people. One Sunday, Bill decided to worship there. He walked into church with his messy hair, blue jeans, tee shirt, and barefoot. People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything. Bill began walking down the aisle, looking for a seat. But the church was quite crowded that day, so he got all the way down front without finding a seat. So he just plopped on the carpet, which was fine for a college Bible study, but a bit unnerving for this rather formal church. You could feel the tension in the air.

Suddenly, an elderly man began walking down the aisle toward Bill. Was he going to scold him about how you’re supposed to look when you come to church? People thought, ‘You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. His world is far removed from that boy’s world for him to understand.’

As the man kept walking slowly down the aisle, all eyes were on him. You could hear a pin drop. When the man reached Bill, with some difficulty he lowered himself and sat down next to Bill on the carpet. He and Bill worshiped together on the carpet that day. There was not a dry eye in that church.”

That elderly man accepted Bill who appeared to be very different. The elderly man recognized that he needed to accept Bill as Christ accepted them both.

When we do that, God is glorified.

How would you respond? Something to ponder.

 

 

7 ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER BIBLE STUDY READY!

Hi girls!

Our next Bible study is available on this blog and hard copies are at our churches. Please take one and schedule your time with your study buddy. This is a study which carries on well from last month’s study of bear with each other. So find out what was happening in Rome and what the church was learning about accepting one another! May you be richly blessed! 

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HIS LOVE

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman

“And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love,” Ephesians 3:17-18

I returned from Tanzania yesterday (Tues) after many hours of travel and traffic. Although my body was weary and tired, my soul was refreshed and renewed! I had the privilege of spending time with 22 lovely women who love Christ more than anything.  Although I was sent to remind them of Christ’s love for THEM, they taught ME the depth, the height, the length, the width, of Christ’s love just by virtue of their sincere presence and authenticity.

I read something that really resonated with me while I was there. I just want to share with you. Maybe it is something you need to be reminded of today. This is part of one anothering!

Remember the Perfect One

Remember, His burden is light.

He is the Lord of Rest, the Bridegroom, longing for His Bride.

He is not a taskmaster, demanding more widgets.

He is a loving Husband, pursuing his favourite girl.

He is a tender Father, splashing in the ocean with His children.

He is a Warrior, protecting His people.

He is a Comforter who really sees.

He knows you are human, and He’s glad about it.

He knows you can’t do it all, and He’s okay with it.

He is jealous for you, longing for your whole heart.

He wants your gaze fixed on Him, not the mirage.

I am praying for you sisters! May you know today how deep the Father’s love for us.

Only ever, all for Him,

Kathy xo

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PATIENCE: A TESTIMONY by one of our own young mums, Vicky Kelly

I’m pretty good at practising patience *first thing* in the morning. So as my 2-year-old daughter was having her first major meltdown of the day as we were driving along, I was prepared and was able to keep true to the verse of James 1:19; ‘Be slow to anger, slow to speak, but quick to listen.’

All the while the decibels were increasing from the back of the car: ‘No, I’m NOT talking to Mummy!’ (among other shouts and throwing of toys).

Calmly I reiterate, ‘I am here for you when you want to talk to Mummy and tell me what the matter is.’ I carried on driving; listening to the same thing repeated and then the squealing, piercing sound finally woke up my sleeping baby next to her. *Breathe*. Patience. I had this under control. After 5 long minutes the crying stopped, and she calmly told me what the matter was (I clearly don’t have good taste in music and a simple change of song would have solved the issue quickly).

I’m not writing this to show how good my patience was, because I am so often not patient and don’t do things right. However as the temper tantrum was prevailing in the back and before my pride was able to swoop in and I put on my badge of ‘excellent parenting’, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit.

BE PATIENTHe gently reminded me that this scenario is usually me, and how I respond to God.  Putting myself in my daughter’s shoes, I was able to relate that I so often shout and scream at God, blaming him for this and that- I sin against God. I don’t listen to God’s calming voice and I don’t hear His ‘I love you’ through the loud stamping and stropping of my own feet. However, when I am willing to stop my strop, I realise all along He is always there, ready and waiting to listen and talk to me. He is patient. He is kind. He is caring and loving and perseveres for me, patiently waiting for me, his daughter, to turn back to him. He is therefore my example as to how I should be with others: Show patience.

Can you identify? Will you help me to remember to be patient with others as the Lord is patient with me? And I will do the same for you. Iron sharpens iron. So let’s encourage to be patient with each other, bearing with each other in love. Then the world will know we are His disciples!

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