One of the greatest needs we all have in our lives is acceptance. We want to be loved for who we are as a person..not what we do for someone. This became clear to me a long time ago when I was in grade school here in Florida. My parents used to come to Florida for about three months every winter as my father was a farmer and had time off during this season. Of course, since I would be missing school, I had to take classes at a local school.
In the grade school I attended on year, I met a Jewish girl who was so sweet. Yet, many of the other students would not even talk to her because of her religion. Each day, we began our lunch period with the Lord's Prayer (yes, at this time it was allowed in the schools). This girl would bow her head too even though she did not recite the prayer. She told me she had a Hebrew blessing for her food.
While our friendship was brief and only lasted that one winter season, she told me that I was one of the few people who had accepted her as she was and did not shun her. I felt good about that. I also thought it was sad that others missed getting to know her as a person.
Within the Christian community, it is even more discouraging to find some who do not accept one another but often act out of selfishness. Paul admonished us that we are to put aside "self" as Christ did in order to minister to the needs and weaknesses of others. Read Romans 15:1-7: "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell upon me.' For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God." Paul's plea here is for unity. We are strong when we can accept and love one another in Christ.
Acceptance is like medicine for the soul. In Christ, we are fully loved and accepted by God the Father. Why then, can't we, in the Body of Christ, learn to love and accept one another? Often we act out of an attitude of pleasing ourselves over pleasing the Lord by helping a weaker brother/sister. We cannot show unity and bring glory to God when selfishness rules in our homes and churches.
Human nature without Christ is basically selfish and demanding. If Christians act in the same manner without putting aside the flesh, what difference will the world see? Why should they desire to follow Christ when we act the same way?
Instead of putting ourselves first in every situation, let us ask how we can help one another. The question "What would the Lord have us do?" is a good one for us to consider as we approach every situation. To love and accept others only when it is convenient to us is human but to love and accept when it is hard comes from a changed heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Selah!