Accepting sisters in Christ is an important concept. It seems like a no brainer. But when we dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of what this actually means, complications sometimes arise.
We, as Christ-followers, have been called to love each other. This love should really just radiate from us. But what happens when sisters look differently than we do?
We still show kindness, but in our minds we might pass judgment. Some believers are more conservative in their daily choices than others. The conservative camp might judge other believers and vice versa. As long as actual sin is not involved, we should be accepting of other’s choices. I have learned that for the most part, true Christians make choices based on their faith. The sister who looks more like the culture around her (but does not indulge in sin), might have left a very fundamental environment that taught that our works influence salvation. The sister who separates and is more conservative might have had many sinful experiences with the culture in the past. We need to understand that each sister is making choices that will draw them closer to Jesus!
My family recently left a church where grace was taught but not always practiced. Matters of conscience were deemed sinful at the pastor’s discretion. An authoritarian spirit ran high. While clear-cut sin is to be addressed and rebuked, only the Holy Spirit can soften and mold our hearts to be more like Christ when clear sin isn’t involved. Like this situation, sometimes we as sisters can judge when there is absolutely no need to judge. We cause divisions instead of forming unity.
In 1 Corinthians 12, we read that there is unity as well as diversity within the body of Christ.
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty…
Just as we have different functions within the body of Christ, we will not all be carbon copies of each other as God uses us and changes us to be more like Him. I fear that we miss out on so much when we judge rather than love others. What blessings we will find if we reach out to those who look differently than we do! I thank God for His grace to change us for the better!