Joey & Carla Link
June 10, 2020
What exactly does it mean to accept others? Is it okay to only accept those who agree with you? “To accept” means to“understand, to choose to receive others as they are without judgement.” It doesn’t mean you have to agree with another’s opinion on something, it means you need to understand how they arrived at that opinion and accept that they see it as truth.
Romans 14:7 says “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” Jesus accepts us with all our warts and ugliness. As we look around our country, we see people who do not feel accepted by others. We have seen protests turn into rioting and looting instead of accepting the opinions of others. The call against racial injustice has overcome our society. Do you remember singing this song in Sunday School?
“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world“
If Jesus loves people of every race in the world, how are you doing teaching your children to accept and love those that look different than them?
In the movie “42” (the story of Jackie Robinson), he and his wife were traveling for the first time through the South and they saw “Whites Only” bathrooms and water fountains labeled for use by whites or blacks. Jackie’s wife, Rachael just stared at it as she had never seen such a thing before. While we have come a long way from then, we still have a long way to go.
Carla and I grew up in Southern California. We had many African-American and Hispanic friends. When I was growing up I played ball games with my friends on the school playground after school. We didn’t know what prejudice, discrimination or racial injustice was.
Again, accepting others is “choosing to receive others as they are without judgement.” In today’s social media world, getting others to agree with your opinion or the way you believe has become contentious and judgmental. People often preface what they say with a statement similar to “I know many of you aren’t going to agree with me…” A lot of the time I don’t agree with them. Does that mean I can’t or won’t be friends with them anymore? Certainly not!
On the other hand, does this mean we have to accept ungodly thinking or behavior? NO! If this is the case, you need to find a way to accept them because “all are precious in His sight“.
Accepting others starts at home.
- Parents need to teach their kids to accept their siblings, friends and peers whether they agree with them or not. Why do others have to change? The only person God asks you to change is yourself. Everyone was created by God, uniquely as they are, no matter what race they are, or what their opinions and feelings are. Ultimately, by not accepting others as they are, we are rejecting how God made them. If they need to change, that is God’s job and He will take care of it. God uses parents to work on training/changing their kids.
- When God crosses your path with other ethnic families who have similar values, set up play dates or go to the park with them so your kids can learn to play together.
- Accepting others in public. When you take your kids shopping and you walk by a person of a different race, say hi to them, smile at them and teach your kids to do the same. A friendly smile or greeting can brighten someone’s day in ways you will never know.
- Build friendships with other cultured and diverse people and encourage your kids to as well. We have a family friend who is African-American. He lives 2,000 miles away from us. We have stayed in touch over the years because of our common faith and interests. When our daughter Amy met him, she was about 4 years old. We were all excited to see him as it had been several years since we had connected in person. We all jumped out of the van when we got to his house and the kids were excitedly yelling his name. Amy looked up to hug him, froze and started backing up to me. Our friend remarked that we didn’t have enough “color” in Iowa. As the visit went on, because we trusted him, she began to trust him too. There are a lot of African-Americans you didn’t see on the TV last weekend rioting, looting stores and causing incredible damage and violence. Don’t be afraid of all because of the actions of some.
The real reason we need to accept other cultures is in the rest of Romans 14:7. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” If Christ followers do not accept others, than God will not be praised, and we give God a black eye.
Race should not become a barrier. We all are created by the same God. Just as God forgives you, He forgives them. This is why He tells us to “love our enemies.” We can be God’s hands and feet in reaching across racial barriers to show God has reached across them too.