I think it’s safe to say that we can’t appreciate one another’s positions, perspectives and experiences in life. We’re an educated people, and I’m sorry to say, we can be superior about our knowledge. Even without intention, we observe one another’s lives, and we judge. As we assess and evaluate everything around us, we also sometimes reject. We reject ideas, opportunities and theologies, and a lot more. We also reject one another.
When I was a young teen, I had no friends. I got along with everyone, I did well in school, but my family kept apart from the school social scene. Before I entered high school, I was approached by a boy who lived about a mile away on the same country road where I lived. He invited me to youth group. We were indoors at the time, and I remember looking behind me to see who he was talking to. I didn’t have the right clothes, or right anything, to be included in anything social. Yes, he was talking to me. I remember being flooded with the possibility that I could be included. My hopes began to surface, even as I tried to understand why he invited me. It never occurred to me to not accept.
My question was basic: can people change?
Not long after I attended youth group a few times, a girl in my class approached me. She was socially secure, a high achiever, and was friendly. Again, I looked behind me when she started talking to me. Why was she talking to me? She asked me if I attended that youth group, that she was thinking of going, too. I know now that she was from a Christian home. She reached out to me, even though I was far from perfect. Forty years later, she is married to that young man who gave me the first glimpse of acceptance in my life. She is still my dearest friend.
We are called to accept and love people.
Whatever causes us to reject, whatever caused us to exclude, whatever causes us to just not care, that thing needs to go. Jesus has given us His heart, and His love is broad and inclusive. We need to confess our apathy, pride, judgement and cruelty. Then we need to start fresh, to wake up tomorrow and ask God to help us rearrange our social schedule. There’s a world to change for Jesus.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.”