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Acceptance is a virtue and it plays an important role in our lives. The word can be defined as the act of accepting someone, taking or receiving something offered,favorable reception in a group, a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, the quality or state of being acceptable. or a non judgemental mindset ( Wikipedia, free dictionary; Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The meaning of the word is determined by the context in which it is found such as in the area of religion, self, others, a community, or how we relate to life.
First, acceptance  is found many times in the New Testament. The words: faith, hope, love, salvation, and forgiveness are also found multiple times. These words are positive words, uplifting words. What we find in the New Testament is often different from what we find in churches we visit or attend. If we were raised in a church or a series of churches, we learn early on who is accepted into the church and who is not. We hear terms like Believers or Unbelievers, those baptized and those who are not baptized, Christians and non-Christians, and how we treat those categories of people depend on church dogma. Sometimes judgements are made of people according to the categories we place them in. If we were to be perfectly honest with ourselves , we would see that we also tend to divide the rich and the poor, the divorced from those who are not divorced, heterosexuals from the homosexuals, and so on.
In reading the New Testament, we can’t help but see acceptance in a different way. We are told by Christ to treat the Jew and the Gentile alike. Jesus had the most difficulty dealing with the Pharisees and Sadducees who were intolerant of those who did not belong to their sects. Jesus came to teach us a different way to see the worth of a human being. He taught us to accept those who were different from us; to give to the homeless, the poor, and the infirmed;  to eat with criminals; and to care for those broken in body, mind, and soul. Most of all,  he taught us to leave the judging of others to God. It was not our job to judge other people. That task belonged to God.
In the area of religion, acceptance also means to receive willingly God’s gift to us. to believe in His words, His actions. It means to voluntarily submit to something or someone we believe in. As children, it is easy to believe in a God of goodness, beauty, and love. Children see the good things around them so clearly, perhaps because they need to believe in goodness in order to feel safe. As adults, we tend to see so much of the bad or the negative around us. Children see quickly all the gifts of the outdoors and they immerse themselves completely into the wonders around them. Adults tend to look for bugs and avoid the dirt. Children are eager to love with all their hearts. They have not yet learned to be afraid of saying, ” I love you.” They also want those who matter most to them to love them in return. Jesus taught us what acceptance meant by His actions. He allowed a prostitute to touch the hem of his garment, took a drink from the woman at the well, allowed a woman to wash his feet and dry them with her hair. Kofi Annan once said, ” We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.”
(Part Two of this article is found in another post.)