It’s hard to know the best way to respond to people who represent your “opposite you.” Do you ignore them? Leave the room when they enter so you don’t say something you later will regret? Share a meal and discuss your differences? Dismiss your differences? How do you find and show acceptance toward someone when you would rather show them the door?
The answer can be found in this admonition:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. — Romans 15:7
We are creatures of comfort and creatures of habit. We like the familiar and predictable. We like agreement over conflict. Peace over disruption. These are the things that make us feel happy, content, at rest. And all these things — comfort, familiarity, agreement — are achievable as long as we interact only with people who are just like us. People who are part of the same political party, church denomination, ethnic group, or country. People who like what we like and dislike what we dislike.
This is all fine and good, but there is one problem.
To live in the world we live in today, we are bound to interact with someone who is different from us.
A coworker, someone next to us on the bus, a neighbor, classmate, teacher, or pastor. We have been created equal, but we have not been created alike. For this reason, if our happiness depends on being surrounded by people who agree with us all the time, we won’t feel happy very often.
In the first session of How Happiness Happens, we will be looking at Romans 15:7, where Paul wrote,
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Note that Paul did not specify to the Roman church whom they should accept. He did not say accept the people you like or accept the people who look like you or accept the people who think the same way as you think. He left it general and open-ended. Accept whom? One another.
Could it be we are called to accept the Democrat and the Republican? The Midwesterner and Southerner? The immigrant and the native? The Catholic and the Protestant?
Further, Paul instructs us to accept one another as Christ accepted us. How did Christ accept us? He loved us so much that he made the greatest sacrifice for us. He died for us. Rose from the grave for us. Left the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Christ welcomed us into the family of God. And this, the Bible says, is how we are to welcome others.
So open your mind and your heart as you explore today’s topic. Discover how accepting one another can make happiness happen in your own life — and for those you accept as Christ accepted you.
Think About It
What is something that made you happy this week?
What comes to mind when you think of “accepting one another”?
Hearing the Word
Invite someone to read aloud Romans 15:5-7. Listen for fresh insights as you hear the verses being read, and then discuss the questions that follow.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
What is one key insight that stands out to you from this passage?
In what ways did that represent a new insight?
According to this passage, why should we accept one another?
…Continue to our blog to watch the video, read the rest of the study, and read the remaining content for this first session.
Excerpted with permission from How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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