Active Acceptance

Psalm 19:7-8
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

Does it sound funny if I suggest that one of the most important virtues in the Christian life is acceptance? Does it sound funny for me to even refer to acceptance as a virtue? Maybe so, but I can confidently say that the right kind of acceptance plays a key role in our salvation. This acceptance is active acceptance. Normally the word acceptance is used as a passive term, more similar to tolerance than the kind of acceptance I’m talking about. Active acceptance is a key virtue of Christianity.

To understand the idea of active acceptance we must first understand acceptance. There are two very different definitions of acceptance available to us in the dictionary. The first is “willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation” and the second is “agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.” The former of is passive and the latter is active. Both of these definitions, however, share the concept of confronting an idea or situation that conflicts with the status quo. They also provide us with two different methods of dealing with this conflict.

The first method is passive acceptance. The key word of this definition is tolerance. This definition is, in essence, just that. Tolerance is acknowledging that views or situations that conflict with your ideal status quo do exist. It is not doing anything about them, and it is not agreeing with them. It is only acknowledging their existence. Since passive acceptance is just tolerance, it really does not factor at all into our definition of active acceptance, it simply give us an idea of what active acceptance is not.

The second method is active acceptance. It is in no way passive or complacent; it is active. The key word is agreement. Active acceptance means that when you encounter conflict, you change your ideal status quo to match this new idea or situation. This cannot happen on its own. It requires action. Active acceptance is difficult. As humans, we are proud and we want our own way. Whenever anything comes into our lives and tries to remove us from our comfort zone, we instinctively fight against it. Active acceptance is not only acknowledging this difference, but embracing it.

Active acceptance is important because it is required of us in our relationship with God. As God’s creations, we must actively accept His way when our way conflicts with His. We must change our ideal to God’s ideal. We cannot sit idly by and passively tolerate when God interrupts our lives and instructs us to follow Him. We must actively accept that He is King of the Universe and we must agree with His ways above our own. And this situation cannot be avoided. As sinful humans our natural ways will always conflict with the ways of God and we are therefore presented with an ultimatum.

We will either fight with God for all eternity or engage in active acceptance of His ways and reap the joys of His good and perfect will for us.

This statement challenges even our ability to passively accept the ways of God. As humans we cannot remain wholly complacent to the calling and movement of God. We cannot just acknowledge that His ways exist and that they are conflicting with our natural ways. If we do not actively accept His ways then we actively deny His ways. This is perhaps, in the end, the least passive decision anyone could ever make because there is no true peace that will ever follow this decision. Although it appears easier to ignore God and His ways and callings in our lives, and even may seem easier for a time, the end result is an everlasting war between our will and the will of God.

Active acceptance is never easy because it always conflicts with our status quo and our ideals. But we have to swallow our pride and embrace the ways of God that lead to true peace and joy for us.

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