by Jim Gordon
It seems most of us Christian people are quick to say we are accepting of others. Yet, we often find that we are only accepting of those who believe the same way we do.
If we meet someone from a different faith, different nationality, different political party, we would rather argue with them and defend our way of thought just to prove they are wrong or unworthy of our acceptance.
When looking at the way Jesus lived, we see a life of loving others and accepting those who the religious crowd did not like. He was kind, loving, forgiving and caring to all he came in contact. It seemed his main conflicts came from the religious self-righteous leaders.
Jesus walked with the prostitutes, the demon possessed, the heathen, tax collectors and people who the religious crowd felt they should stay away from. Today we seem to think we have to stay away from those who are different or doing things we disapprove of to prove how righteous we are. We never see Jesus doing such things. He enjoyed spending time with people from all walks of life. He got in trouble with the religious people of his day for living this way, and we find this still happens today when we accept people just the way they are.
Rather than being judgmental and unaccepting, we should be kind, accepting and sharing the love of God to everyone we meet. After all, we are not called to point out the sins of others and say what is and what is not sin. We are called to love God and love one another.
Jesus never said to separate from people. He said to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The gospel is the good news that we are loved and accepted by God. We can do this by living a life of love, acceptance and allowing the love of God to touch people right where they are.
It seems to me rather than fight and argue over doctrine, interpretation and belief we would do better to love, accept and show compassion. This certainly does not mean we have to agree with everyone, but we do not have to be unaccepting nor always defend our way of thinking.
Many of us think we have it all figured out and our way of faith is the only way. We think we have to persuade others to come to our way of thinking or they are doomed to hell. As we grow in the Spirit, we come to see that some of our interpretations and beliefs were wrong, so why should we tell others what is right and wrong and tell them how they should believe? This should be something between the individual and the Spirit within.
I am not sure any of us have it all figured out, in fact I know none of us do. We all have room to question, learn and change. I know my wife and I are doing more questioning than we ever did and we are finding new truths as we walk daily in the Spirit.
When it comes down to it, we should be open to accept others no matter what their way of thinking. People want to be loved and accepted, they want to be happy and get along with others. When we get all religious and defend our point of view it does more harm and drives people apart more than anything.
My wife and I have been asking God for strength to accept and love everyone. No matter what they believe, no matter what their faith or doctrine, no matter their religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we want to see them as Jesus sees them. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us. We want to love, accept and care for people. Naturally we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas and love them in Christ. We feel this is the way that others will come to see the love of God, not through unacceptance, not through condemnation, not by trying to prove we are right and they are wrong, but by accepting them and loving them with a godly love.
Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or always like some of the things people do, but it does mean we look past the differences and love them as Christ loves them. We see them as human beings equally deserving of love, respect and acceptance.
Let’s try to look past the labels and see people who have feelings, who want love and friendship, people we can get to know, learn from, share thoughts and ideas and accept as human beings who were created in the image of God.
Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: email@example.com