November 26- Acceptance and Affirmation

Romans 15:1-7

Ultimately we are accountable to God, but we also need to be accountable to one another. This ensures proper care and discipline in our churches and homes. As we consider how this can happen amongst ourselves, consider the following four words and ask yourself, “From which end of the list does God come to us?”

Authority

Accountability

Affirmation

Acceptance

Your answer to that question will reveal what kind of a parent you are and how you do ministry. There is little question from Scripture that God first came to us with acceptance through Jesus Christ. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Then came the affirmation. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom. 8:16). Those who are accepted and affirmed will voluntarily be accountable to authority figures, but if authority figures demand accountability without acceptance and affirmation, they will never get full disclosure. That is why Paul admonished us to, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (vs. 7).

There are no statements recorded in the gospels where Jesus demanded respect and accountability. He never said, “Listen people shape up because I am God.” Jesus had no human or earthly position of authority and yet “The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matt. 7:28,29). People recognized His authority because it was based on His character. Jesus dined with sinners so they knew they were accepted even when their religious leaders wouldn’t. The Gospels reveal that sinners loved to be around Jesus and Jesus waged war against hypocritical religious leaders. Sinners who desperately need Jesus often stay away from churches, because of what they perceive to be religious hypocrisy.

Notice how the Apostle Paul related to the people. “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:6-8). Acceptance and affirmation are two of the most basic needs that we all have. Observe little children who unashamedly ask for both. “Did I do good mommy?” Do you like the picture I drew?” We don’t grow out of those needs, but we all too often stop extending it to adults and to our children as they grow older.

Listen to the dialogue between an authoritarian parent and a tardy child. “Where were you?” “Out!” “What were you doing?” “Nothing!” Does that sound familiar? It is all too common in our homes, churches, and schools. People do not inwardly respond to intimidation. True accountability cannot be demanded; it is voluntarily given. You can force some external accountability through threats and intimidation, but nobody will be vulnerable to an authority figure unless they know they are loved, accepted, and affirmed. As Christian leaders and parents we may not always be able to control those under our authority, but we can always love them.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog