7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (NIV)
Has anyone noticed the hate and prejudice in the world today? We reject people because of their skin color, their religion, their lifestyle, their politics, their driving skills, their personality, their fashion sense, and a plethora of other things. But God accepted us as a friend even at our worst. And we are called to love people at their worst.
The Bible says there is no greater love than for a man to die for his friend. When Jesus died for the world, He was accepting every human being as His friend regardless of how they were or how they responded to Him as God. The word ‘friend’ comes from two words meaning to be fond of and wishing well for others. Even when we disregarded the love He exhibited to take our punishment on the cross, He accepted us fondly wishing the very best for us. Only God loves like this. Of course, we are called to love as He loves.
When Christians reject people so frivolously and often as the world does, God within us is hidden. We are called not to keep the Light of Christ under a bushel, but to let His light in us shine brightly. To do this, as our passage reminds us today, we must accept one another, our neighbor, and even our enemy as our friends.
Not everyone wants to be our friend and we have little control over this. But as much as it concerns us, to reveal the love of God that people might see Him and praise Him, we must foster within ourselves a desire to see them do well, to be fond of them, even if only from a distance if they want nothing to do with us.
The key to this is remembering how Christ received us. He saw us as friends even then. We see this clearly as Jesus reacts to the very act of betrayal of Judas. Judas is actively betraying Jesus with a kiss of all things. Jesus responds by calling Judas, “Friend.” Christ was able to do this because He trusted the Father to care for Him even if people let Him down. We must do the same.
God cannot stop people from hurting us, and they will, even in the church. But He will ensure our healing and prosperity despite what others may do trying to hurt us. God is bigger than hatred, jealousy, gossip, and betrayal.
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember how You loved me so that I have compassion even on those who do not want to be my friend. Amen.