That particular group that just grinds your gears.
The ones that you just don’t (and don’t want to) understand.
Somewhere along the way, “those people” lost your respect and your compassion. You can’t see things from their side, because they are obviously beyond understanding.
You’re just too different.
Who are “those people” that come to mind?
A woman stirs in bed, wakes and smiles sleepily as the sunshine streams through her window. As she places both feet on the floor, that spot in her lower back aches and she rubs it. Yesterday was physically exhausting, and today promises more of the same. She hums her favorite song as she washes her face, and she feels tired already as she cooks breakfast and mentally prepares for the upcoming day. There is a lot of work to be done on top of the job she will go to: her home and family require as much (if not more) from her and this all after long days trying to bring in money to ensure a better future for them all. Before breakfast has even been eaten, a conversation brings unneeded stress. She tries to stay positive, shoots up a prayer for help, and keeps moving. It’s just life, and there are sure to be moments of laughter and fun even in the mundane. And most of all, there’s love. Their faces are what keeps her grounded, motivated, focused. She may not have the easiest life, but it is still beautiful and valuable because God is good and love washes away even the hardest days. This is her life.
Who did you picture when you read this? Try to imagine this scenario with one of “those people” as the woman in the story. It’s a little bit harder to maintain that icy wall when you let yourself acknowledge that all people are intrinsically the same. They all have struggles, hopes, dreams, disappointment, joy, heartbreak, and fear. They have rough days. They worry about their kids. They cry, mourn, and long to be loved and understood.
The clothes, neighborhood, language, religion, ideology, political affiliation, etc. may be different than yours, but “those people” have an inalienable right to their thoughts, belief systems, cultural traditions, and heritage, just as you do yours.
But what if they’re wrong? Or morally destitute? Or just plain evil? What if they hate you?
This is where Jesus comes in to save (yet again) the day.
We are one in our fate if Jesus does not intervene. Lost. Hopeless. Helpless. Romans 3:23 says “there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“..
So did Jesus come only to save those that we deem worthy of salvation? Romans 2:11 says “there is no partiality with God“. So, that means he loved and died for “those people” just as much as he did for me. In 1 Timothy 2:4 it says that “God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth“.
There was racism, sexism, and classicism back in Jesus’ day. Samaritans, Gentiles (non-Jews), “sinners”( you know, the really bad ones) , and women were held with contempt or indifference. But Jesus himself reached across each and every barrier to show that his love, grace, and redemption was an offering to all..the poor, rich, good, bad, and ugly. “Those” people.
In Acts 10, Peter backs this up: “You yourselves know how unlawful it us for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.”
There is nothing more beautiful to me than to see a group of people who don’t “go together” bonding and doing life together. United by something bigger than their fear, bias, or background. This is a small glimpse of heaven. I love the verse in Revelation where John speaks of seeing people from “every tribe, tongue, and nation” worshiping God together.
We, as Christ followers, should do the same. Setting aside the things that can divide us, we can take Jesus with us across those lines and build Kingdom Community. One heart to one heart, one sinner to another, we rise above and glorify God.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither make nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus“. -Galatians 3:28
It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.
How can you, today, set aside any “us vs. them” mentality and take the first step towards redeeming a broken world?