Striving for the only acceptance that matters

Colossians 3:1-4 — Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Have you ever felt out of place, like you don’t belong? Maybe it was at a football game among fans who were cheering for one team while you were wearing the lone jersey for the other team. Or perhaps you’re not hip to the latest fashion trends and you’re at a party where everyone looks like they stepped out of a magazine or a conversation about what’s going on in the world and you might not be as familiar and sophisticated in your thoughts about current events or simply you don’t really care. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable maybe even, unwelcomed and unwanted in such situations.

It’s uncomfortable when we feel out of place. But the real question is how accepted do you make others feel who don’t agree with you? How accepted do you make the homeless person on the street feel? Or the friend that just had a divorce? It could even be the teenager who has found herself pregnant. How accepted do you make people who are different from you feel?

This is certainly not a call to celebrate or enable another’s personal sin but a reminder that Christ chose to accept us even though we were lost in sin. Shouldn’t we as followers of the Lord of lords be just as willing to accept others? The world is full of people from every possible background and not one of them is perfect. If we are not willing to accept them, how will they ever know that Jesus does? If we are not willing to lead them to the Lord we must acknowledge that there are many in the world who are willing to lead them away from the Lord.

This isn’t, “What would Jesus do?” This is, “What did Jesus do?” “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).

A believer’s life is risen with Christ. God the Father who loves His Son with a perfect and eternal love is willing to forgive the sins of a born again believer and accept the believer in Christ. This position of being in Christ affords the believer clear and certain understanding in regards to their own significance and purpose in this life.

The false teachers of this world are looking to prey upon those who are seeking significance and purpose. Their goal is to find approval of their message by their audience. The false teacher wants to be accepted and a part of their ploy for acceptance is to make the listener feel accepted — like they are a part of something. After all, we all want to be a part of something.

This may have started on the elementary school playground when we realized the kid who swings the highest gets the most attention. He was an influencer by letting everyone know how great it is to be up in the air so high, flying freely without a care. He is a legend of the playground, his name is spoken with the highest regard. His tales are legendary, almost mythical. He reminds everyone that the heights he has achieved are not for everyone. He is motivator as he explains that these heights are not for everyone but they are for you. You too could fly so high as long as you are not afraid and you too can be a part of this exclusive club. You too can be just like him. This is the way of the false teacher. It leads one away from Christ and being Christ like and to the way of man and imitation of man. This method is founded on acceptance.

The only acceptance that matters in our life is the acceptance that comes from our union with Christ. Our faith in Christ identifies us with Christ, we have risen with Him, have conquered death, raised to a new life, the old life is gone, we are now alive to holiness and righteousness. This fact should motivate us to share the gospel with anyone and everyone regardless of their outward appearance, regardless of their known or unknown sin. We should seek that everyone come to a saving relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You have seen the clouds gather in the sky and settle on the hills. We have heard the roaring thunder, and the sound of rain falling as lighting flashes bright and sudden only to disappear as fast as it arrived. The scene is one of storm, confusion, and darkness. Suddenly the whole aspect of the heavens is changed. A blaze of light springs up among the hills; the storm ceases; the gloom is swept away; and the outlook is one of tranquility, of triumph, and of glory.

This picture painted in our mind describes the striking change between seeking the acceptance of man which is nothing more than darkness and confusion — a stormy life. And finding the acceptance of God the Father through faith, the light, the peace and the certainty that is Jesus Christ. Which would you want for yourself, which would you want for your neighbor?

I pray that you have found yourself in Christ and are focusing your heart and mind on the things above seeking to do what is pleasing in the eyes of the Father and sharing the gospel message with everyone.

(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)