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To love is to accept a person

posted 28.06.2013

by Terry Wong

Every weekend, there are precious oppportunities to serve the Lord. No, I am not referring to preaching or singing on stage. You do not need to join a ministry to start serving. You do not need to put on your tie or dress your best.

I am referring to one where almost anyone can serve in.

One of the most precious thing which a person can experience is to be welcomed, accepted and loved. We often see “acceptance” as a small subset of love. I believe when we say “God loves you”, central to that idea is welcome and acceptance.

Jesus said “we should love one another just as He loved us.” (John 13:34b) St Paul repeated the same idea when he ask us to “accept one another just as Chrit has accepted you.” (Romans 15:7)

Think deeper about this. Love is not molly-coddling. It is not about having an intense feeling of “like” for another. In fact, you may not even be in agreement with one’s lifestyle choices or values. You may not share neither the same “wave-length” nor social chemistry with the other. But like Jesus, you can convey a sense of “unjudging” acceptance and welcome. It is not about striking a friendship. It is about doing the “human and God” thing when you meet another person. And if he/she steps into the church, there is an added reason to extend love/acceptance. 

Let me make this practical for you. How can you learn to accept a person?

1. See this person as a person, made in the image of God. Ignore his/her race, sex, edcuation level or dressing habits. This is the first point of human connection when you value a person as a fellow human being.

2. To welcome a person, it is important to take an interest in him/her. Ask questions. Learn to take a genuine interest in the person: background, family, work, hobbies etc. Stop talking about yourself. That is the quickest way to lose friends. People are attracted to you, not because you are attractive (unless you want to be regarded as a celebrity, which makes you an object!), but because you take a genuine interest in them. People to people connection begin when we learn to accept the other. And friendships are born when we become less self-absorbed and be inteersted in the people around us.

3. And here is one huge lesson for people who think they are ‘spiritual.’ Love is a biblical mark of true maturity, as we know. If love is to extend acceptance to another, we need to ask how well we have been doing this. There is one rich lesson we have learned from doing Alpha. If you are all tense up about converting another person and praying in tongues under your breath, you will do poorly in Alpha. If you are warm, unjudging and always keen to know another person for who he is, you will do well. A simple truth - and Billy Hybel will calll this the “BBQ first” principle – ministry often happens in the context of authentic human relationships.

Much more can be said but reflect on this. Once you understand this, and whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert (I am the former), as long as you are willing to love/accept another, God can use you every weekend in our Services to reach somebody.

Sometimes people lament to me that they are seeking for a ministry to serve in. Yet God brings all kinds of people to our doorstep. Are we ignoring these God-given ministry opportunities?

Indeed, to accept, to welcome is to love, and true charity begins at home.