I preached on Romans 15:5-7 this past Sunday. Verse 7 "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
The Greek word for the phrase "Accept one another..." is "proslambanesthe" which is a present, imperative meaning that accepting or "taking to oneself" one another is a daily expectation and is of utmost importance. It is NOT a "take it, or leave it" proposition. One Greek lexicon suggests that this means "to grant one access to one's heart" ( Enhanced Strong's Lexicon; Logos Bible Software).
To my way of thinking, this is one of those words that 'explodes' with meaning! The word is used in this form 14 times in the NT, and has a very rich lexicographical depth. It is one of those words that make you want to stand up and shout it out. Although that is not my preaching style, I was excited about this concept. You can check out my sermon on the audio page if you are interested in digging a little deeper into the passage.
The amazing thing about this passage is that Paul sets a standard for the Church of all times and cultures. This idea of 'granting access to one's heart' captured my imagination. I want to explore some more about the limits of transparency in another study, but the thought of acceptance of my brother or sister in the Lord means that I cannot be overly burdened with trying to hide my true thoughts and feelings from my friends in Christ. Think about it. Imagine the amount of energy it takes to hide, bury, twist, spin, ignor or just plain lie about what is really on our hearts. OK, I know we need to be assured that the Church is a "safe" place to be "ourselves." With that caution, maybe we should try this concept out in the life our churches. Perhaps the solution is found in a small group (or one other person) where we can actually put this verse (Rom. 15:7) into full action. Admittedly "scary." (Another side of the issue is that we know there are people out there who would exploit this for their own purposes, such as control or 'order' - I am thinking of cultic Christian groups over the years who have used transparency as a weapon and easily misused - and abused other believers.)
BUT, there has to be a middle ground in this somewhere. Can I truly "grant access of my heart" to another believer in Christ? And to what degree does this imply? Don't I need to think about consequences of being "too" transparent?
Well... Yes, there are a lot of questions that need some pondering in all this. BUT... in the mean time why not(!) try this deeper level of acceptance of one another and see how it actually works out in real life in the Church.