Can we accept one another?
This is an interesting concept that is mentioned three times in Romans. Look at the various translations of Romans 15:7 –
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (ESV)
Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. (NKJV, cf. KJV, NET)
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (NASB, cf. NIV, NLT, HCSB)
All of these English versions are translating the Greek word Ï€ÏÎ¿ÏƒÎ»Î±Î¼Î²Î¬Î½Ï‰ (“proslambanÅ“). According to a standard Greek lexicon (BDAG), Ï€ÏÎ¿ÏƒÎ»Î±Î¼Î²Î¬Î½Ï‰ carries a range of meanings: 1) to take something that meets a personal need (take, partake of), 2) to promote one’s own ends (exploit, take advantage of), 3) to take or lead off to oneself (take aside), 4) to extend a welcome (receive into one’s home or circle of acquaintances), or 5) to take or bring along with oneself (take along). According to the lexicon, all of the uses of Ï€ÏÎ¿ÏƒÎ»Î±Î¼Î²Î¬Î½Ï‰ in Romans fall into definition 4 above: to extend a welcome (receive into one’s home or circle of acquaintances).
Here are the other uses of Ï€ÏÎ¿ÏƒÎ»Î±Î¼Î²Î¬Î½Ï‰ (“proslambanÅ“) in Romans:
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome (accept / receive) him, not to quarrel over opinions. (Romans 14:1 ESV)
Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed (accepted / received) him. (Romans 14:3 ESV)
Interestingly, in each case, the “accepting” or “receiving” is carried out in spite of differences. Therefore, even though someone disagrees with me, if that person is a brother or sister in Christ, I am supposed to receive that person into my home or circle of acquaintances. Why? Because that is the way that Christ received us (Rom. 15:7).
Have we forgotten what we were like when Christ received us? Read through the first few verses of Ephesians 2 if you have forgotten. There was nothing in us to deserve acceptance. In fact, we deserved (and still deserve on our own) condemnation – punishment – judgment. This is the definition of grace. We were accepted by God in spite of the fact that we were unacceptable.
Now, we are to accept or receive others in the same way – that is, in the same way that Christ accepted us. We can only accept one another (as they are) when we realize that there is nothing in us that makes us better than anyone else, nothing that makes us acceptable. As long as we think that we are better than others, then we do not accept them. As long as we expect something from others, then we do not accept them. As long as we value people for what they do for us, then we do not accept them. As long as we love, care for, and welcome only those who agree with us, then we do not accept them.
When we can learn to accept someone who is not worthy of being accepted, then we will begin to understand what it means to accept someone as Christ accepted us. When we accept someone even when they can offer us nothing, then we truly accept them. When we accept someone that does not love or accept us in return, then we truly accept them. When we accept someone in spite of our differences, then we truly accept them.
Unfortunately, many within the church continue to value people for the work that they do, or their intelligence, or their talents, or the time they have to put into church projects. Some are accepted because they can speak well. Some are accepted because they can sing well or play an instrument. Some are accepted because they have money to give. Some are accepted because they have a nice home and drive a nice car. Some are accepted because they can organize projects. This is not acceptance, at least not in the way that Christ accepted us.
If we accept the one who cannot speak well, and who cannot sing or play an instrument, and who has no money to give, and who is homeless or always needs a ride, and who cannot organize projects…
If we look at a brother or sister and recognize that Christ has accepted them and if we accept them as well with no strings attached, then we are learning to accept one another as Christ accepts us. And, according to Romans 15:7, this brings glory to God.
So, who are you welcoming into your home and into your circle of acquaintances? Are you “accepting” others as Christ accepts you?