Everyone wants to feel accepted. There is a deep need to be accepted by other people, spouses, family, friends, colleagues and society. Yes, we need love, but we also need the respect and acceptance from those around us. We need to know too that God accepts us just as we are, unconditionally. We should accept other people too, particularly people who are different, and celebrate our differences, not despise them. But first of all we must learn to accept ourselves and then we will be free to accept other people.
Who needs acceptance?
- School children seek acceptance from their class-mates. Most films written about high school seem to be based on the struggle of young people to be accepted – to be a part of the “in group”.
- Universally, wives and husbands seek acceptance from their spouses as a part of being loved. In fact love without accepting one’s partner as they are, is not really love at all.
- We want to be accepted as we are by our brothers, sisters and parents. How many films have you seen where a young man tries hard to earn the respect of a father to whom he is a failure.
- We seek to be accepted by our work-mates and bosses.
- Even members of a gang, need to be accepted by their fellow gang members as “one of us”.
- Religion is largely about seeking the acceptance of God. The good news is that God loves each one of us and accepts us how we are.
- We want to be accepted by society at large.
- People who are in some way different, whether it be a disability, colour of skin, life-style or culture still want to be accepted by society.
- Above all, we really need to accept ourselves.
For example, I am an introvert, somewhat reserved and can seem remote to those who don’t really know me. Others are extroverts and are able to make their presence felt in any group. How easy it is to despise people who are different. We need to accept each other and celebrate our differences.
Accepting each other
Accepting other people is a part of loving each other. As we are encouraged to love each other, then that love must start by accepting people where they are now.
- Love without acceptance is meaningless,
- Erotic love without acceptance is just lust.
- Compassion without acceptance is patronising.
- Social action without acceptance is just activity.
- Political correctness without acceptance is hypocrisy.
“Accept one another, then , just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)
Accepted by God
The Bible says that God loves all of humanity – not just those who believe in Him. That unconditional love is possible because he thoroughly accepts us, warts and all. Certainly, He wants the best for us and enables us to overcome our weaknesses, but his love and acceptance doesn’t depend on our current state.
Being accepted by God brings amazing freedom. Freedom to be ourselves, freedom to accept other people as they are, and freedom to accept ourselves no matter how many failings we may see in our lives.
As I look around me, I see many people who don’t really accept themselves. People who have been crushed by someone who they care about. People who are always trying to gain the respect of a father, a mother, a church leader or their employer. People who believe that God is always judging them and they are continually failing. The perfectionist who cannot possibly live up to the high standards they set themselves.
I need to accept myself in spite of how other people see me. We live in an imperfect world, and we are never going to be accepted by everybody. But we do need to know that we are accepted by God. And when we also know the acceptance of our spouses, our family and close friends we can learn to bask and flourish in that acceptance.