Acceptance

The following paragraphs are an excerpt from a book that I have been writing for a little over a year.  The book is called “First Church of the Broken”.  I am currently one chapter away from completing my goal of finishing this book!!!  I’m pretty jacked about that.  This comes from a  chapter entitled “MOB Mentality”.  MOB stands for “Making Others Better”.  Enjoy…

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jesus, being God, knew more about this woman than she even knew about herself.  He knew the ugly, dirty truth about her. He knew the mistakes she had made, the failures she had experienced and the shame that she carried. Here’s the kicker. The Son of God, the perfect one, the one in whom there is no sin or deceit…loved her anyway.

He wasn’t rubber stamping her life and saying that her current circumstances were okay, but He also didn’t let those things affect the compassion that He had for her. Let me be clear about what I think about Jesus, He was perfect. He was sinless. He was guilty of no wrongs. This woman had been in five marriages and now was living with a guy and was probably wondering if that was going to work out. Jesus didn’t let that affect His love for her. He accepted her for who she was.

She was a woman, which at the time put her in a lower class in her society. Yes, I know that’s messed up. She was also a Samaritan, which was another mark against her. That too is a little screwed up.  She was involved in sexual immorality and that made her an outcast even to her own people. That was her third strike and she was out! But because of Jesus’ relentless acceptance and love for her, He was able to speak truth. I’m convinced that only Jesus would be able to speak this kind of truth to someone within one conversation at a well. For the rest of us it takes time. It might even take years before you can begin to weigh in on someone’s circumstances. Even then you have to be super careful and considerate of that person’s feelings. Due to the fact that we are by no means sinless, we also have to be mindful of our own sins and have humility in having these conversations. I do believe that it is possible over time to earn the right to be heard.

My point is this, Jesus accepted this person for who she was but He also was able to stick to the things He knew to be true about God…Himself. I know that gets confusing right? He was full of grace and truth. He didn’t compromise one for the other. The result of that loving conversation was this.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Samaritan woman at the well believed in Jesus. She not only believed in Jesus, she dropped her water jar and told her friends immediately. Why? This “prophet” knew things about her personal life without any context. Not only did He know the sordid details of her life but He still spoke to her. To take it a step further, He wasn’t afraid to talk to her about spiritual things because He knew that she needed this “living water” more than anyone else. Jesus accepted her.

Acceptance can be one of the most powerful acts of obedience that you can practice. Let me clarify once again, acceptance doesn’t mean that you approve of the person’s choices or decisions. Over time, we’ve lost our bearings on what a biblical view of being accepting is. Let’s start with a definition.

Accept: [ak-sept] to give admittance or approval to <accept her as one of the group.

The Latin word “capere” means “to seize” or “to take”. From the root of that word we get “cept”. If we capture something, we take it by force. To accept something is to take something willingly to oneself.

If we look at acceptance that way, that we are taking that person as they are, it makes more sense. We are not telling them that we agree with everything they believe, we are saying I believe in you. We are acknowledging that we are imperfect and in need of the transformation that Jesus offers in the same way that they are. That acceptance can be powerful.

If you look at the life of Jesus, you can find a multitude of examples of Jesus accepting others. Jesus accepted the lepers that the rest of the Jewish culture rejected. He accepted the blind man that others assumed was born blind because of his sin or his parents. He accepted the woman caught in adultery (John 8), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), the demoniac (Luke 6), the centurion (Matthew 8), Peter after his rejection (John 21) and many more.

It is sometimes difficult to look at the life of Jesus and pattern your life after His isn’t it? Let’s be honest with one another. Here’s what I mean. Sure, Jesus accepted these people that society rejected but then He changed them miraculously and their lives were never the same. We don’t have that capacity. We can suggest advice, we can even help people make their lives better but we cannot change their hearts. That is totally out of our league and probably one of the greatest miracles that Jesus performed and still performs today.

I do believe that we can help set the stage though. Acceptance is one way that we can create an environment for others that will give them a taste of what God’s love is really like. Once we have done our part, people will more clearly see God for who He is, a loving Father.

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