Why receive you one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Many points of dispute arose in Churches composed of Jews and Gentiles. Not easily or joyfully could Jewish Christians throw off the trammels formed by the habits and traditions of ages, and welcome the admission into the new brotherhood on equal terms of men who had never been trained to compunction on account of ceremonial regulations neglected. Like the mother in the days of Solomon, more anxious for the safety of her child than for the strict settlement of a legal problem, the apostle was concerned for the welfare and peace of the community. He would have both parties waive their rights, and unite in holy fellowship instead of holding aloof. A chief part of our modern difficulties consists in the proper treatment of others, especially of our fellow-Christians. More anxiety, embarrassment, sin, is displayed here than in any other direction. The ancient matters of controversy do not perhaps trouble us, though signs are not wanting on the horizon of clouds no bigger than a man's hand which may at any time overspread the sky and disturb the harmony of the Churches. We still need guidance lest trivial differences in thought and behaviour should estrange us from one another. Let us look at the rule of behaviour laid down. It is contained in those golden words, the pivot of Christian conduct, "Even as Christ also." Our treatment of others is to resemble Christ's behaviour towards us. Here is the path we are to tread, and the source of skill and strength to enable us to proceed therein.
I. CHRIST RECEIVES MEN GLADLY. Not reluctantly, but heartily, with outstretched arms and promise of blessing. See this evinced in the Gospel narratives. He was moved with compassion toward the multitudes; gave royal invitations - "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink;" "Come unto me, all ye that labour." This can be verified in our own experience; for Christ lives and rules over our hearts and lives, dispenses his favours freely; and the peace and joy that filled our hearts in trusting him were the testimony of his delight, the fire descending from heaven to certify the acceptance of our sacrifice. Contrast Christ's interest in Saul's conversion with the latter's cool reception by the Church at Jerusalem, where the apostle had been abandoned to utter neglect but for Barnabas. The kingdom of God is no close corporation, like a city company, afraid of its membership growing too large for the spoils to be divided; or a House of Lords, where a large influx lessens individual importance. But our desire must be for the Church to increase till it sways the globe. Our Christian societies should be as a fostering greenhouse to young life, or as a warm bath that dissipates spiritual rheumatism, where the outside chill may be forgotten, and men may rise from a hostile crowd to a sanctuary of peace and love.
II. CHRIST RECEIVES MEN IN SPITE OF THEIR IMPERFECTIONS Though sin-stained and despairing of righteousness, helpless with frequent falls, ignorant with a dulness which is realized more each day, yet our worthlessness was not spurned by the Saviour. For this reason he drew us to himself, to heal and save us, to instruct and improve us, to develop into maturity any latent germ of good. He sees what men may become under genial influences - the image of God renewed; the dry stick swelling into life and blossom; the plot of barren ground a garden. If we wait till our brethren are faultless, we shall have little communion this side of heaven. If they are not as cultured or as large-hearted, all the more do they need our stimulating converse; and if not doctrinally perfect, they will learn.
III. CHRIST RECEIVES MEN IMPARTIALLY, making no invidious distinctions. This was Peter's argument for the admission of the Gentiles (Acts 11:17; Acts 15:9). One presented, at court may demand the countenance of any ambassador; for whom the sovereign hath received, all her servants must honour. Whom Christ hath admitted to his grace we are bound to acknowledge. The Saviour on earth demanded sincerity in would-be followers. This is the explanation of any apparent sternness. He would have none enter on a Christian career without counting the cost, and showing a wholehearted readiness to obey. Feeble faith, if genuine, he never refused to bless. Hypocrisy, delusion, he pitilessly unmasked; but trembling seekers he smiled upon with Divine encouragement. Why distrust his magnanimity now? Why fear a scornful rejection of your prayers and service?
IV. CHRIST REGARDS IN ALL THINGS THE GLORY OF GOD. Note his constant reference to the Father's will. He preached that misunderstandings respecting God might be cleared away. He relieved and cheered the suffering that they might know and praise the mercy of God. He gave his life that the dark shadow of human guilt might no longer eclipse the glory of the Divine government. The end cometh, when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, having subjected all things to God. And through him the same principle actuates his disciples. It is men who have some noble end in view that can rise above petty meannesses and jealousies, caring no longer for personal rank and power, content to be abased if thereby the kingdom of God may be advanced. The zeal of God's house consumes the fleshly, ease-loving, envious "me," and substitutes a bright blaze of pure, affectionate solicitude for God and man. There are doubtless seasons when individual dignity must be asserted; there is no season when it is not in place to consider the glory of God. That glory includes our own highest good. It is no ear of Juggernaut trampling on the devotees; any contradiction is on the surface merely, and in the future life a lasting reconciliation shall be seen established between man's satisfaction and the authority of his Maker. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.