May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
On our faith journey, we can move pretty quickly from being stunned that God could accept someone like us—with our past, mistakes, and bad decisions—to people who apply certain criteria before we’re willing to accept others or consider them worthy of being invited into our homes, the church, or our community. When we do this, we are far from the gospel. Paul reminded the Romans—and he reminds us today—that they were to look at others the way Jesus looked at them, accept others the way Jesus accepted them. When we accept others as we were accepted, we are imitating Jesus and our lives become invitational.
Read today’s Scripture passage again and this time do so slowly, paying attention to what words or phrases stand out to you. Where do you feel resistance? Where do you feel conviction? Where do you feel gratitude?
Reflect on the people you encounter frequently who are not followers of Jesus (maybe it’s people at work, in your neighborhood, friends, or family members). Thinking back on your last dozen interactions with them, is there anything in your words or attitude toward them or even around them (think about your social media posts) that might make them feel unacceptable to God or that his grace might not be able to reach quite where they are? What comes to mind? What adjustments do you need to make to ensure they know they are invited as they are?
Often we don’t see ourselves clearly or know how we come across. What trusted family member, friend, or mentor could you talk with about whether you come across as judgmental or invitational to those you encounter? What questions might you ask that person?
God, you know every part of me—every dark thought, decision, and deed that lurks in my past or in my heart. And yet, you accept me, love me, and have lavished your grace upon me. Thank you! Thank you! Why is it hard for me to extend this same invitation to others? Forgive me for the ways I have communicated that you are anything but accepting and loving, standing ready to forgive and heal. Transform me so my words, attitudes, and actions convey this truth about you. Amen.