Accept One Another (Week 4 – One Another Series)
Jason White





Scripture teaches us to accept one another despite our differences. The church is not a group of people who all look the same, talk the same, vote the same way, or even believe all of the exact same things. The church is made up of all sorts of different people who have Jesus in common. As we accept one another, it brings praise, glory, and honor to God.

Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.





Sermon Audio Transcript
Earlier this week, I was watching a documentary it was a documentary about the Florida Gator football team. Back in 2006, to 2009 area era, it was when Tim Tebow was on the team. And I think they won a couple of national championships during that amount of time, I'm, I'm not recommending that you necessarily go and watch it this morning. There was quite some colorful language in the documentary, a lot of it throughout so much so that I almost turned it off at one point, but I was, I was fascinated because you have Tim Tebow, who is a Christian, and who was described by his teammates as either spending his time one of two ways. He was either reading his playbook, or he was reading the Bible. Yeah, that was it. But then you had all these other guys who are out doing a number of other things, and you know, their language and partying and doing all these things. It was just fascinating to watch the differences between him in so many other players, but how they were still on the same team, how they were united together on this mission to achieve something together in spite of their differences. It's fascinating to watch, but one of the things that really struck me was about how Tim began talking about how different his upbringing was compared to many of his teammates. If you know, Tim Tebow, you know that he was homeschooled. Most of his life, he was raised in a Christian home, he had parents who told them that they loved him, they showed him that they loved him in a number of ways he grew up knowing that he had a place and a family to belong to. Many of his teammates did not have that. As a matter of fact, in the documentary, they focused in on one of his teammates, who said that he was born inside a prison, that his dad spent probably 95% of his time growing up in prison, he was never around, he said, I'd look around and there was no family, there was no one to hug, there was no one to kiss, there was no one saying I love you, and you belong. But then he began to talk about how his coach started to invite him over to his house on Wednesday nights and how his wife would cook spaghetti for him and how he got to sit with them at the dinner table like a family, he said, they all accepted Him. And He began to feel like he actually had a place of family to belong to the way he described many of his teammates, they became like family to him. And you could tell that as meaningful as the national championships were that they were chasing and trying to win, that having a family, that having people accept him in a family to belong to meant way more to him than winning football games. And I think it probably is true of all of us, right? I mean, we long to be accepted by others, we all want to belong. And when we are accepted by others, and we have a family to belong to, it can be so impactful to us. And of course, when we accept others and give them a family or a place to belong to, then it can have such an impact on them as well, which is why accepting others is really important. But it goes way above and beyond that. And that's what I want you to see this morning. Look at what the Apostle Paul says in Romans, chapter 15, beginning in verse seven. Looks like that's not going to work for me this morning. One more time. You'll lay hands on it and pray with me. All right, we're not going to mark it up. But you'll be able to read it and you'll see it here. So Paul says accept one another then just as Christ accepted you and here's the part I want you to focus on first, right here after the comma. Why in order to bring pops up. 10 minutes later, little delay in it hadn't woken up yet this morning, right? In order to bring praise to God. This word right here that's translated praise and a lot of your bibles is translated glory. Did you know that when you accept others, you bring praise, honor and glory to God's name? It goes way and above and beyond just being a benefit and a blessing to us. Being a benefit and a blessing to others, it brings glory, praise and honor to the God of the universe when we accept others. One of the reasons this is such a big deal is because of who Paul was writing this to who he was commanding this of the church at Rome was made up of Jewish Christians. It was also made up of Gentile Christians who could not have been more different from each other. And yet Paul was telling them to accept one another. When Paul is saying this, in other words, what he's saying here is to accept one another. Despite your differences. I know Paul's saying that you are so different from each other, but accept one another. Despite your differences. If you were to look back, one chapter at the beginning of verse 14, you would begin to see this word except that we're looking at in Romans 15. Here, Paul uses it a couple of times, and you would begin to see kind of the context of it, which helps us understand even more about this command to accept one another. Paul says, except the one whose faith is weak, we'll come back and talk about this. I'm going to underline it No, this is important, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows them to eat anything, but another whose faith is weak eats only vegetables. No reason why anybody would just do that. The one who eats everything must not treat with content, the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything, must not judge, the one who does for God has use our word again, excepted them. Paul uses this word twice in Greek, it's pro colombano. Right? It's the exact same word that he uses in Romans 15, pro colombano. All right, and we see the context of him asking them to accept each other in spite of their differences. It was around food. The major difference in the way the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians approach the eating of food, huge differences. And he's still saying, to accept one another is a matter of fact, it was a theological issue, right? It was a theological issue with this eating certain things and not eating other things and speaking into it. And some people were landing on this interpretation of food and the way it should be handled, and other people were landing over here. And interpreting the exact same things in a different way in Paul doesn't command them and say, You guys all need to get together on the same page and believe the exact same things about this issue together. Now he does that at times, he does correct some things that were errors in the way that maybe things were being interpreted. But in other words, Paul here is saying there are some things that are actually disputable matters. When it comes to theological issues. You can dispute them and land on certain areas of this, but we are still called as we live out together as the church to accept one another, even if we land on different places around things that are disputable matters. One group as far as this food was concerned, believed that the foods were unclean, right, the other one did not. Some didn't eat meat, others didn't eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, you can read more in depth as you go through chapter 14 as well there, but if they were supposed to be the church now, I mean, how in the world do they really do life together? How do they be a part of the same family together if they had different interpretations of this theological issue around food?But in all honesty, it really goes way above and behind food. I mean, there are enormous cultural and religious differences in their backgrounds, one group could trace their genealogy back 50 generations they were grounded in the Old Testament scriptures. They had been taught the moral law of God, and they had walked as aliens in this Greco Roman culture that they were forced to live in. The other group was immersed in the Greco Roman culture they were living in had no knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures in a lot of ways or the moral law of God. But beyond even that there were enormous differences between the Jews in the Gentiles politically, some sat on this side of the political aisle, other sat on this side of the political aisle, they were probably difference financially socio economically, there were certainly differences culturally, we've already seen, there were differences around food and dining, they were even considered enemies of one another. And yet here Paul is telling them to accept one another. This is no small thing. At joked a few weeks ago, and we're opening up this series about one another's in the unity that Christ provides for us in that it kind of being like asking cowboy fans and Eagle fans to actually accept one another and live together. Or if you're not a big sports person, it's like Democrats and Republicans being asked to accept one another. It's like Donald asking Donald Trump and Joe Biden to actually accept one another, or Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy to work together and to accept one another. This is a huge thing. They couldn't be more different from each other. But as big of a deal, as it was to ask them to accept one another because of their differences, we see what this command was grounded in by what Paul says. Next, we read verse chapter 15, verse seven. Look what Paul says, next, For I tell you, that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed, and moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. In other words, Paul says that Jesus is the fulfillment of many Old Testament promises and prophecies in order to fulfill the work of God in this world for both the Jews and the Gentiles wasn't just the Jewish nation and to prove this next, he quotes for Old Testament passages in a row. The two of them are from the Psalms, one of them's from the law, and the other one is from the prophets. Verse, the rest of verse nine. This is a quote from Psalm 89. He says, As as it is written, therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles, I will sing the praises of your name, as he goes on in verse 10. He quotes Deuteronomy 30 to 43. Again, it says, Rejoice you Gentiles, with his people, you go to verse 11, he's quoting Psalm 117. One and again, praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, let all the peoples extol him. And you get to verse 12, Isaiah 1110, he's quoting and again, Isaiah says, the root of Jesse will spring up one who will arise to rule over the nations in him, the Gentiles will hope. In other words, Paul is trying to show that they mission and purpose of Jesus coming, having been prophesied about and been foretold about hundreds and 1000s of years, that the purpose of that and is coming was to build one church that is made up of both Jews and Gentiles. This was the Messiah's mission, that Jew and Gentile would be together in one church, fellowshipping fellowshipping together across the boundaries of differences. Matter of fact, the apostle Paul would write about this in a different letter to the church, and then he would put it this way. So in Christ, when you put your faith and trust in Jesus, and you enter into that spiritual union with Him in Christ, Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you were baptized into Christ and have closed yourself with Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all all one in Christ, Jesus one, church. It's the finish work of Christ that brings us together as one, his sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. His death, His burial, his resurrection, His ascension, his singing of the Spirit. That's what we mean when we say the finished work of the cross all of that together brings us together as one church, despite our differences, because we're all one in Christ, Paul writes in Romans 15, except one another. There's a lot of differences. But you're all one in Christ. So accept one another. Jesus has broken down the barriers that existed, that kept us separated, and so different from each other, brought us together as one church, despite a racial differences, or socio economic differences, political differences, age differences, cultural differences, and even theological differences. At times, guys, the church is not made up of a bunch of people who look like each other talk like each other vote like each other, or dress like each other. The church is a not a homogenous group of people, it is not a collection of people who are all the same. It is a collection of all sorts of people, many of whom are very, very different from each other, but who all have one thing in common, and that is Jesus. Matter of fact, I was so excited that when I first came a few years ago to hear about a group of ladies who gathered together under the name, more in common, some of you were even a part of that group. And I don't know all the details, but from what I think I understand, it was born out of a lot of the racial tension that became a really big deal a few years back, and some ladies from our church and some ladies from another local church, which was a predominantly black church decided to intentionally come together for fellowship with the understanding that they had way more in common than they did their differences in that it all started with having Jesus in their lives first and foremost, and that they were sisters in Christ. And because of that they could fellowship together and they could meet together, and they could worship together and pray together and support each other and encourage each other. And they've done that a number of times over the years, so much so that many of them have formed friendships, they hang out individually. And again, they pray for each other and worship with each other. And it's just this beautiful picture of the gospel being lived out of accepting one another problem borrowing each other. And as a result, as Paul said earlier, and we were focusing on this brings praise and glory and honor to God, sure, there were benefits to them, each being accepted by others, and then them accepting other people into it. But above and beyond that, Jesus was glorified and honored through the Accepting of one another. There's one more part of this verse though, that we really need to hit and touch on in order to fully appreciate what Paul is saying here, accept one another, then how, just as Christaccepted you, in the same way that Christ accepted you. And so if that's the way that Paul is asking us to accept others, the same way that Christ accepted us, then we have to ask the question, How did Jesus except you, how did he accept me? Well, let me just tell you how that did not go right. Jesus did not look at you or anyone else and say, Wow, that is such a great person, I need them on my team. Right? He didn't look at you. And notice the way that you were dressing and going, you know, if I was down there, that's the way I would do it. That's the way to really be dressing at church or in front of other people out in this culture. And I need people who dress like that to be a part of my team. He didn't do that. He didn't look at you and go, you know, I really noticed the way that you are polite and that you mind your manners. You say Yes, sir. And no, sir. You say yes, ma'am. And no, ma'am. It looks like your mom and dad taught you the difference between right and wrong. You were raised right? And I need people on my team who understand the difference between right and wrong. So I accept you. That's not how it went. He didn't look down and say you know what, I see the way that you vote I see the way that you align yourself politically, and therefore I am impressed with you. I need someone who votes like you and who thinks like this on these certain political issues, to be a part of my team, I'm just honored for you to be able to be on my team because of your stance on those political issues. He didn't look down and say, I accept you because of your skin color, or because you go to church on Sundays, or because of what Bible you carry around or maybe even sometimes read. As a matter of fact, here is what the Apostle Paul said about us as Jesus accepted us. Romans, chapter five, you see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, which is translated weak in a lot of translations, Christ died for the UN godly, very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us. And this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And he goes on to say, For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the sign of through the death of his son, and goes on to explain reconciliation there that we have with God.God accepted you, when you were weak, I'm godly, a sinner and considered his enemy. Not because of your stance on anything else, or how good you thought you were doing.And so two things I point out about this, or I think that are important. Number one, if God can accept us based on the finished work of Jesus, of course, when we were weak, ungodly sinners and enemies, then surely you and I can accept other brothers and sisters in Christ, who differ with us on non essential matters of our faith. You can accept brothers and sisters in Christ, who vote differently than you who dressed differently than you who have a different skin color than you do, and who again, interpret secondary biblical issues differently then, than you do. Now, acceptance and accepting them does not mean affirm, right? If it happens to be a matter of sin, or any of those kinds of things, then you would go okay, I don't know if I should accept people who are necessarily sinning in these particular ways. Because we disagree on the certain things within scripture. It feels like I might be affirming them acceptance does not equal affirmation of those things. When I was looking at thinking about this, it made me think of and many of you are familiar with these people. Dr. James Merritt, who was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention at one point in time, and his son, Jonathan Merritt, again, who was raised in the church along with him, they couldn't be more different than each other today. He's an adult grown man, and he is still a pastor J. Dr. James Merritt is Jonathan Merritt is a gay, progressive man. And he says this, he says, People often ask me how in the world I maintain a close relationship with my dad. I'm a progressive gay man, he says. And as many of you know, he is a Southern Baptist preacher who describes himself as to the right of Ronald Reagan. But we've chosen to stay and stick it out and to learn to love across the differences that we have, we still establish healthy boundaries. But we are more focused on how we can build bridges to each other than barriers from each other. Now, he says it has been one of the toughest things. He says I can't emphasize this enough. We disagree on a lot, politically and theologically, a lot he puts in capital letters, we often joke that some of our disagreements could peel paint off of the walls. But he says we have learned that loving across difference is messy and difficult, but that it is worth it. I think that's what it looks like to accept one another, but not necessarily affirm the things that are going on. That's the first part of what I think this is. The second is that I think that means that this extends to people out in the world who don't yet know Jesus as well. I mean, again, if Jesus took us in before we ever cleaned our own racked up when we were considered weak, ungodly sinners who are his enemies, then we can accept those who are still in that position to, before they come to know Jesus, we value all people, we accept all people because they're made in the image of God. And because Christ died for not some people, but all people. And Jesus, of course, even did this in His earthly ministry, He hung out and valued, those who are described as lost centers, and he will lead us to do the same. We are to accept one another. Just as Christ accepted us, and as we do, we bring glory, and honor and praise to Jesus in His finished work on the cross. So let's just get real, super practical for the last couple of minutes together. Who is it that Jesus is leading you to accept today? Who is it that Jesus is leading you to accept today? Is it those who sit on the other side of the political aisle than you do? Is that a difficult one for you? Maybe that's what he's speaking to you about today. Except those, I was reading a number of commentaries and I came across a story of a guy who visited a Church in Washington, DC, where, obviously I mean, the political capital of the world, and all the differences that come with Republicans and Democrats there and he walks into this church and into worship, and from where he ended up sitting in worship, he could see one highly recognizable Republican congressman, and he could see one highly recognizable congressman who was a Democrat. And he says they were both very different from each other, obviously, with their political views, and the way they voted on certain issues. But he watched as both of them seem to genuinely be worshipping God together in the same church that morning, in one aisle apart, they had both accepted each other on the basis of having Jesus is calm in common, despite their differences in so many other ways. And so maybe that's what Jesus is speaking to you about today. Do you have room in your faith for someone who sits on the far extreme political side of the aisle from you due to walk through those doors, and to genuinely accept them as a brother or sister in Christ, if they put their faith and trust in Him and worship alongside of them with Jesus in common in still being different? On those in those ways? If it's not that issue, is it Jesus leading you to accept those who are of a different race, a different socio economic status, those who dress differently for church or out in culture differently than you do? Is a pastor over several years now. Unfortunately, that's one of the things that I've had a lot of people at different times come to me about, Oh, Pastor, did you see so and so and all the tattoos that that person have when they showed up in church this morning? Or did you see this person with all the body piercings that they had? Or man, did you see how dress down in casual this person came and walked into worship? Today, I've even had people approached me about men whose hair they thought was too long. And that was inappropriate for the message that we were trying to send to different people. And each time, my response is something similar to Galatians 328, I'm sorry, but we're all one in Christ. And we're told to accept one another, just as Christ accepted us. And that's what we're going to do. And if they weren't believers, and they showed up that morning to worship with us, then it's Well, Jesus hung out with people who are probably a lot like that, who weren't considered culturally appropriate to many religious people. And yet he hung out with him in his circles, so it's probably okay for us to as well. So, are these the people that Jesus is leading you to except this morning those whose appearances are different than yours? Or is it those who think differently about something theologically than you do? Again, the Jews and the Gentiles in Rome didn't view the food laws the same? And Paul was not asking them again to believe the exact same thing, but instead, the command was to accept one another, despite where you land on those issues. Now, again, I'm not talking about primary issues, things like the deity of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, the Trinity, salvation being by grace alone, by or through fit grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. These are core primary doctrines of the Christian faith that you can't get away from, if you're going to call yourself a Christian. Right? But what about those who view Calvinism? Arminianism? Or something like molinism different than you do? Do you accept them? What about those who view sign gifts differently than you there are some people who call themselves Cessationist. And who don't believe that the sign gifts are in work today that people have the gift of healing other people or the gift of speaking tongues and that kind of thing? So if someone disagrees with your view about those kinds of things, do you still accept them? What about baptism, those who view baptism differently than you do? Do you have room to accept them as part of the church? What about complementarianism and egalitarianism? To you accept those who view women in ministry differently than you do? Do you accept those who view men's and women's roles in the home differently than you do? What about premillennialism? Post millennialism? We're all millennialism. Do you accept those who have a different view about the end times? Then you do? What about your view of confession and repentance? Or the Old Testament law? And how it applies to us today? Do you accept those who have a different view about those things than you do? Guys? These things are important. And the Lord is certainly dealing with me on a number of these things as well. I've even had a particular friend of mine come to me and kind of ask him questions around these issues. You know, we talk about unity. But yet sometimes the way you say things, it may come across that you're really more divisive than you are about unity, we can still have core convictions about things and things that have impacted and want to share things from this particular grid or perspective and the interpretation that we land on around these things. But we can do so in a way that highlights unity, and still values other people that land differently in those areas, because there are Christian brothers and sisters, who don't see those things the exact same way that we do. And so this isn't just me talking to you. This is something the Lord's working in my life on these issues are important. But everything that I just mentioned, every one of those examples are not primary issues, their secondary, their secondary issues found in Scripture. And again, secondary does not mean important. But it does mean that we can defer over them, we can differ, as Paul said, over disputable matters. That's a key thing that we read in verse chapter 14 There we can differ on disputable matters, and still be on the same team, not just be on the same team live in unity together. This is what Paul is talking about when he's asking the Jews in the Gentiles who differed on a number of things, and still said to accept one another. We can still accept one another and live in unity as Jesus carries his mission out through us as this church. And so let's do that. Let's keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as the author of Hebrews says, and let's accept one another in the same way that he has accepted us so that he will be glorified and honored and receive all the praise due to him