Acceptance in the Family of God – now there’s an idea !
You already know how much is at stake when it comes to our acceptance and loving each other, right? Let’s talk about what characterizes acceptance inside the family of Christ’s followers. Have you seen clear examples of acceptance among believers – done well or done poorly? If you are part of a local congregation, this discussion can be very relevant. At least, that is the aim of this week.
Thanks for joining us!
Helping Leaders Live Loved and Give Love Freely….Starting at Home!
Acceptance in the Family of God
Loving God and Your Fellow Believers
1. Do you understand why we have done work in ACCEPTING each other in marriage and family? Principle: Accepting others who differ from us or have failed us at home is perhaps the best way to be prepared to accept those who differ from us and / or fail us outside the family.
2. Do you agree with the above principle? Please discuss this with your spouse and/or the family.
Acceptance in my local congregation:
3. What experiences have you had with either personal involvement or observed situations where someone inside the church was accepted and restoration attempted, where needed, or not accepted because they were either “too different” or had failed “too” badly?
Let me give you an example of a story of acceptance and restoration.
The woman in the story is real and her experiences are true. This family of faith did it right!
There is this lady, let’s call her Hope. (Permission given to share her story) When Hope was 15 she had an abortion. Many years later she felt compelled by God to share her story of healing and Grace, but she feared sharing this story within her congregation feeling abortion was the “unpardonable sin” or would be deemed so within the church. But, by faith, she shared her story. Hope knew others were probably in the congregation sitting in shame, who needed healing as well, so she was willing to share for them. As she trembled, she shared how God healed her. As she went to take her seat, one by one, people came to her from the congregation and hugged her, cried with her, and some shared how they too had had an abortion and how much they needed to hear her story.
This congregation accepted her. Though they did not agree with the sin, they accepted Hope, the forgiven person. But what if they hadn’t? Can you imagine the shame that might have overwhelmed Hope? What would that have said about this local Body of Christ – if they rejected her? What would you have done if you were there that day?
4. Can you recall an example, where a person was rejected unfairly by the people in the church? What was the outcome for the church and for the person?
5. Discuss a situation where a failure should have been addressed, but was ignored. How does “speaking the truth in love” apply to handling situations in the church? How does being able to “speak the truth in love” at home relate to doing this at church or in other places outside the home?
Acceptance of Those From Other Churches, Movements, and Denominations:
Let’s look at acceptance across denominational lines or outside the local body of believers. In our day, we need to come together around the core of living a Great Commission Life from a Great Commandment Heart. As we have worked now with dozens of denominational groups, we are finding that most (not all) can accept each other on this *GC2-basis”, while still holding differing doctrinal beliefs on some key issues.
*GC2= a common belief that each of us are commanded and privileged to live a Great Commission lifestyle of sharing the Gospel and making disciples AND that we must do so with a Great Commandment love for God and others. (Matthew 28:1920 and Matthew 22:3739)
I have come to believe that finding two people who agree on every point of doctrine, though not an impossibility, would be like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. So, should we have a separate denomination or movement for each person or the two who agree exactly – if they exist?
6. Is it even possible to love each other as Jesus loves us, while maintaining strong doctrinal differences? The answer has to be “YES”! Finding this place of loving acceptance while differing and even strongly disagreeing is one of the best ways to show the world that we ARE HIS DISCIPLES! John 13:34,35 Thought: Jesus and I are vastly different. He loves me still!
7. In Acts 15:39, Paul and Barnabas disagreed sharply concerning whether or not John Mark was to accompany them on the next missionary journey. Whether they argued or simply had a deep difference of opinion, they found a solution resulting in two different partnerships. The relational problem was eventually resolved because Paul referred to John Mark as a “valuable asset”. (2 Timothy 4:7). My point is this – we will differ and may differ strongly, but there is no place for unresolved hurt and guilt in the family of God.
8. Have you ever left a church to find another but you injured people in the wake of your departure? Have you spoken inaccurately or unnecessarily about people and leaders at the “other church”? As I am writing this, I am confessing to God my wrongs related to speaking inappropriately about churches where I formerly attended and served. My question to God is “Father, after asking forgiveness from You, am I to go to anyone to ask forgiveness, and/or am I to simply say nothing else to anyone about the situation if it will put the “other church” in the wrong light?”