In my parenting classes, one of the things that I often teach parents is the difference between “acceptance” and “approval”. Parents sometimes equate acceptance with approval as they come across differences or unwanted behavior in their children.
As I was reading Psalms 1 this morning. I was reminded of how important it is to process the distinction between acceptance and approval in all aspects of life, not only in parenting.
The author of Messy Grace, Caleb Kaltenbach says it so perfectly,
Love is not based on agreement, love is based on acceptance.”
Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Approval
So here are some reminders for you and me as we wrestle with the tension of grace and truth.
I can accept you as my friend without aligning myself with your political party.
I can accept you as my family member without agreeing with your vaccination choices.
I can accept you as an image-bearer of God without agreeing with your immigration status.
I can accept you as my neighbor without agreeing with your religious stance.
I can accept you as a co-worker or friend without imitating your lifestyle.
We see God’s love beautifully displayed in the life of Jesus as He taught God’s truth and crossed paths with a variety of people. He met, sought out, and loved the prostitute, the demon-possessed, the cast-out, the tax-collector, the adulterer, the thief, the legalist, the poor, and the uneducated… I just love how He sought out Zaccheus and then dined with him.
He accepts us as His creation; as image-bearers of God.
Yet in the process, He didn’t imitate or approve those things that went against His Father. He stood firmly like a tree planted near the water on God’s truth and spoke in grace and truth.
Dare I say we are commanded to love and accept others. We are called to acceptance.
The problem is that sometimes we tie so much of what we think to our identity and anyone who disagrees is someone who rejects you. Or we go to the other extreme and think that in order for others to see that we accept them we have to imitate and align ourselves with their beliefs. But we don’t!
“Love is not based on agreement, love is based on acceptance.”