Saturday, May 06, 2006

acceptance / approval

These words are not synonyms.

There is actually a significant difference between the two. A gulf that is as wide as the sea.

Think of the Atlantic Ocean: a large body of water (to say the least) that seperates North America and Europe, a distance of roughly 3,000 miles. But...from far enough away you can actually fit both continents in the same photograph. From far enough away, 3,000 miles can look like an inch. And from even farther away, it can appear as though there is no more than a sliver seperating one coast from the other.

But try telling that to Benoit Lecomte. In 1998, he became the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean...from Hyannis, Massachusetts to Quiberon, France...a feat that took him 72 days, swimming 6-8 hours a day.

I think the problem with the church is that for a long time we have been standing way too far away. We are afraid of acceptance because, from where we are standing, there seems to be practically nothing seperating it from approval.

But that simply is not true. See, Lecomte experienced the reality of the Atlantic ocean. He tasted its saltiness and fought its waves. He knew the fear of jumping off one coast and the exhausted heroism of crawling up on the other.

The church needs to step out of outer space and back into reality. We live in a highly pluralistic world where most people do not share our worldview. And that does not mean that we have to choose between either imposing our standards on others or alienating ourselves because of them. I think that those are both bad choices.

No, I believe we are called to jump into relationships; to take the plunge. To fight the currents of popular opinion, navigate the difficult waters and experience the ocean of blessings.

Let us no longer steer clear of accepting someone who holds a differing belief or practices a certain behavior because we are afraid that doing so will give the impression that we are approving of their choices.

Jesus accepted with out approving. Paul did too. The Pharisees, however, did not.

Acceptance and approval are not synonyms. There is an ocean between them. An ocean we need not fear.

No comments: