People often confuse acceptance and approval these days. As Christians, we are in the center of this maelstrom. Christians are increasingly perceived as intolerant of others, especially those who are different. If you don’t act like us, you can’t be one of us.
The divide is most evident to me in the relationship between Christians who accept God’s Word as the authority on what’s morally right and those that don’t accept absolute truth as a possibility. Consider the relationship between so many Christians and those who practice homosexuality.
I believe the tension comes from a misunderstanding of this basic question that all people struggle with: Am I accepted? People want to be accepted for who they are. Unfortunately, we too often link acceptance with approval. Christians are afraid that if we accept people who live a sinful lifestyle that we somehow condone that behavior. At the same time, many in the gay community insist that you must approve of their lifestyle if you want to accept them.
Jesus faced this same dilemma. A woman was brought before Him who should have been stoned because of her adultery. Jesus met the woman where she was and accepted her without approving of her lifestyle:
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:10-11
Jesus loved this woman, but He also was not content to stand by and let her continue in her sinful ways. However, it was loving the woman that gave Jesus a platform to speak truth into her life. And guess what? He’s doing the same with you right now. Jesus loves you for who you are—and because of that great love, He calls you to leave your sin behind and walk closer and closer with Him!