John 13:20 “Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts Me; and whoever accepts Me accepts the One who sent Me.”
Acceptance plays a major part in who we are as 21st century people. We all want to be accepted on our own terms as individuals. We all need to feel part of a society that accepts us totally. We all want to belong to a world where every single person’s life matters and every single choice is respected. This is a very high ideal and one that is impossible to fulfill. People on this planet have different ideas, philosophies, and versions about life. We live in different places; we have different histories; we belong to different cultures; we eat different food, wear different clothing, and speak in different languages. The chances of us completely accepting one another are very remote and, sadly, highly unlikely. We therefore look to a Higher Power and Wiser Being to show us what is acceptable and what is not.
Today’s verse from the Gospel of John belongs to a passage where Christ is actually commissioning His faithful disciples for the work that is yet to come. Unknown to them, they are about to experience and endure the three most intense and grueling days of Christ’s three year ministry. Their cozy world is about to be turned upside down and inside out. Their lives will never be the same, and their mission will be enormous: they will be charged with broadcasting to the entire world Christ’s message of resurrection and salvation.
In this instance from the Gospel, the acceptance that is crucially important to Christ is the acceptance of His messengers of the new Faith. To accept His apostles is to accept Him; to accept Him is to accept God. This is foundational for the life-changing work of preaching and teaching the Gospel, which will continue to the end of the world. Rather than us being accepted by Him, which is what most of us want Jesus to do, we must accept His terms, His conditions, and even His messengers.
In the end, the work of the Gospel, the spreading of faith, and the expansion of Christianity will be the most important mission undertaken in all of the history of humanity. We may reach dizzying heights of technological wonders; we may discover amazing new facts and sciences in the future; we may even travel to other planets and journey across the stars in centuries to come – these are all glorious and magnificent goals for humanity to reach – but in the end, God knows all of these things that we may discover, for His wisdom is infinite, so the most important thing to God is our individual discovery of accepting His Holy and Only Son as our Lord, Savior, and King. The importance of acceptance, then, is not the acceptance by God of who we are on our terms, but our personal acceptance of Christ on God’s terms.
Question for personal reflection
Have I accepted Christ as my Savior, Lord, and King?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You came down to Earth to offer us the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of accepting You as God’s Chosen One. Keep us from continually making excuses or avoiding this crucial choice. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.