It has happened before. In fact I have experienced this same thing many times since our church began. And when it does my heart is lifted almost like I can hear all the angels of heaven singing the praise of God. It really is awesome.
Here is how it goes. A young man walks into the church. He has been here a few times before and has connected with a few people. No one, at least almost no one, knows his story or the pain he has been going through. But on this day the pain has gone to a level he can’t take any more. In the next hour he opens his heart, shares his story and begins to feel relief because of the peace of God.
Romans 15:7 NLT
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
We don’t agree on all he has done. I don’t even understand all he has been through, but what this young man experienced today is the love of God by being accepted by another human being. He doesn’t feel judged or put down. Someone has simply joined him where he is and begun to share life with him.
It is the job and the responsibility of followers of Jesus to accept the people we meet. We aren’t to judge or to put them down. We aren’t to compare their wrong with our right or to become self-righteous. It is our responsibility and privilege to extend the acceptance that God has given us.
The Community Fellowship chose when we began to practice what is important to us and what God has put on our hearts. That is to ACCEPT people as they are and where they are. God doesn’t say we have to change to come to Him. God doesn’t tell us to go put on a dress or a suit so that we can interact with Him.
Matthew 11:28 NLT
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
It was an honor to let this guy see faith lived out. Yes, he heard about God’s love for him. He heard that where he has been doesn’t define who he is and doesn’t have to destine him for failure or even more pain. We talked at length about human nature and how life seems to crumble around us when we miss great things and the truth God has for us.
Accepting people as they are means that we treat people the way God has treated us. I pray that each of us will find people who need to find God. I pray that as we meet these people that we will accept them. No questions asked. No strings attached. Just the love of God in living color as we accept people as they are.
NOTE: This Sunday we begin a brand new series at The Community called I LOVE COMMUNITY, and we will examine how God calls each of us to be the church and to love people. I can’t wait to see what God does through each of us.
NOTE: The picture above is of the new pope and a young disabled American boy. This story caught my attention and my heart.