Accept One Another

A sermon by Michael Pahl on October 27, 2019, called “Accept One Another.” This is the second in a five-part series called “One Another.” Note that due to a recording problem during the October 27 service, this recording was made later.

Here is a written excerpt from the introduction:

“Accept one another.”

It sounds so simple, so straightforward. What’s to learn?

Just accept one another.

But what exactly do we mean by this?

Do we mean “permitting others’ presence among us”? In this case “accept one another” simply means “tolerance.”

This is the grand virtue of a modern western society: “tolerance.” We are a multi-cultural society, a religiously plural society, a diverse society in many ways. And so we need to cultivate a bare minimum of tolerance, “allowing others who are different to exist among us, permitting their presence within our society.” Is this what we mean by “accepting one another”?

Or do we mean, “accepting others for who they are”? This is leveling up. This is more than mere tolerance. Here we are moving to true acceptance: not simply permitting others to be present, but allowing people to be who they are, with all their virtues and flaws and personal quirks, all their unique beliefs and behaviours, all their strengths and their wounds, all their hopes and fears.

Or might we even mean something more, something more like “welcome”? In this case “accept one another” doesn’t simply mean “I will tolerate others’ presence” or even “I will accept others for who they are,” but it means “I welcome you as one of us,” even a kind of “welcome home.”

All of these are good things—“tolerance,” “acceptance,” “welcome”—but “tolerating others’ presence among us” is the bare minimum we can do. To borrow Jesus’ words, “Even the unbelievers do that.” Jesus calls us, though, not to settle for basic tolerance, but to move beyond “tolerance” toward “acceptance,” even a full “welcome,” just as Jesus has welcomed us.

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