Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7
In his book Breaking Down Walls, Glen Kehrein writes about climbing to the roof of his college dorm in Chicago after the assassination of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. “The sound of gunfire bounced eerily back and forth off the large buildings, and soon my rooftop perch provided a near panoramic, yet horrific, view. . . . How in the world did I get from a Wisconsin cornfield to a war zone in the inner city of Chicago in less than two years?” Compelled by his love for Jesus and people whose backgrounds were different from his, Glen lived on Chicago’s West Side and led a ministry there that provided food, clothing, shelter, and other services until his death in 2011.
Glen’s life mirrors the efforts of believers in Jesus who’ve come to grips with the need to embrace those who are different from themselves. Paul’s teaching and example helped Roman believers see that God’s plan to rescue wayward humanity included Jews and gentiles (Romans 15:8–12). Believers are called to follow His example of acceptance of others (v. 7); prejudice and discord have no place among those called to glorify God with “one mind and one voice” (v. 6). Ask God to help you cross barriers and break down walls and to warmly embrace everyone, regardless of their differences. Let’s strive to leave behind a legacy of acceptance.
How can you be more intentional with people who are different from you? What steps do you need to take to be more in line with Jesus’ embrace of all people?
Father in heaven, help me to represent You and make adjustments in my thinking and actions today as I strive to love others well.
Bible scholars agree that the book of Romans was written by the apostle Paul. Early church historians Eusebius, Origen, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria concur. Saul (whose Roman name was Paul) was born in Tarsus, a center of Greek culture and university city in Cilicia on the Mediterranean Sea. Paul received his early training in the Law in Jerusalem under the distinguished rabbi Gamaliel, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (see Acts 5:34–40; 22:3). Before his conversion, Paul watched as Stephen was stoned to death and then took a leading part in the persecution of believers in Jesus (7:58; 9:1–2). Christ dramatically confronted him on the road to Damascus, and Paul was transformed from a zealous persecutor to a zealous preacher of the gospel. He’s attributed with writing thirteen books of the New Testament.