Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Saying I accept you

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” –Eph. 4:2

“Tolerance” is a tricky term these days. The “love the sinner, hate the sin” montage seems to have evolved into a “tolerate the sinner and neglect the sin” motto. Teaching our teens to love everyone but to take a stand for moral issues is absolutely imperative if we expect our kids to have any moral foundation. After all, it is possible to love someone completely but still disapprove of that person’s inappropriate behavior.

Jesus modeled that duality with everyone he encountered. Certainly, with the women at the well, he accepted and loved her, but he challenged her to “sin no more.” He wasn’t being judgmental, unloving, or intolerant. Truth is, to love her completely, He had to share his conviction. And the woman left, not feeling judged, but loved. So much so that she went to town and shared the good news about Jesus and scripture says, “Many believed because of her word.”

As you may know about me, I love hamburgers, and the more unusual the better. While we were in Amarillo this past weekend, we visited Smoky Joe’s Café on the old Route 66 through Amarillo. The name fits the smoky atmosphere. We sat on an outside picnic bench and ordered awesome burgers. The place was full of Harley motorcyclists and alcohol consuming people. It was easy to stereotype most of the people there as wild, lost and unfriendly.

As we sat at the table eating our burgers and fries, a motorcycle couple stopped at our table. As I reached for my cell phone to call 911, they both smiled and said, “What a beautiful baby.” We said, “Thank you” and they left on their Harley.

I realized I’d done it again. My heart is so judgmental. I forget that Jesus looks inside, not outside. With a glance, I slot people into categories and file them away. I don't see the best, but the worst. My sinful heart is tarnished and only loving when it’s looking through the lenses of Jesus.

So much of the bias we develop is picked up as kids from our parents. I remember my kids learned early to cheer for the Rangers and hate the Yankees. They liked the Rangers because I liked the Rangers. The same holds true for people. If they hear and see me commenting on people, they develop the same attitude about those people.

But if they observe me being loving and helping, they in turn learn to be loving and helping. As they go through the teenage years, their friends and the media will compete with your good intentions, but in the end, they’ll mature and grab hold of what they heard.

So, pray everyday for a heart that is accepting and for the overflow of that heart to speak words of love and acceptance. At the same time, pray for a heart that shares truth. Not your own bias, but truth that is grounded in God’s Word, the Bible. It has proven to be a solid foundation for thousands of years.

Help develop a loving and accepting heart in your kids- whether it’s a Yankee on a motorcycle or not.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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