“Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” — Romans 15:7 (KJV)
Acceptance, Not Tolerance
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963
In order to make further progress up the mountain of fear and pride to the summit of racial justice, the idea of racial tolerance must be abandoned for the more radical, God-honoring idea of racial acceptance.
The King James Version of Romans 15:7 translates “accept” as “receive.” Other modern translations render it as “welcome.” Each captures some of the heart of the Greek word used here, which literally means to “take to oneself or admit to friendship or hospitality.” Our 21st-century understanding of the term “accept” is to receive with approval or favor.
We tolerate those things that make us uncomfortable and we wish would just go away, like screaming babies and toothaches. This notion of racial tolerance has done a disservice to the cause of racial justice. It has done little to destroy the attitudes that sustain racial discrimination.
Followers of Christ have been called and equipped to take the bold step to “accept one another.” It is we who have been told to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly” (Colossians 3:16). It is we who have been indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do God’s will (John 14:17), and it is we who have been commanded to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).
— Jerry Birch, Cleveland Cavaliers chaplain
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