Bri Johns – Director of Student Ministry Programming
My grandfather was harassed on a regular basis for doing one simple thing… parking in the handicapped spot at stores. I had no idea that this was something that people raged over, but they do! Hostility would show itself in the form of nasty notes on his car, brash comments in passing, horns honking… What is with people these days?
You see, on the outside my grandfather looked “normal” – he could walk, he didn’t have a cane, he wasn’t legally blind. On the outside, he seemed fine. I guess he seemed like a guy who was milking the system and taking up a handicapped spot that didn’t deserve it. But what people didn’t know is that my grandfather was given a handicapped sign for his car because he suffered from a rare disease called myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease affecting the muscles all over his body, and it really took a toll on his eyelids. He couldn’t keep them up. He had special glasses that literally held his eyelids up so he could see. Yes, you can definitely judge regarding whether or not this man should be driving in the first place, but really that’s up to the MVD.
When are you tempted to judge someone based off of what you only see? We all can fall prey to judging someone based off of what they’re wearing, how they speak, their education, how they contribute (or don’t contribute) at work, what they like to do for fun, what political party they align with, their sexual identity, where they work, whether they work, how much money they make, how they parent, what types of car they drive, how they drive… the list is endless. These might be the things we see, but they don’t define a person. There is so much more that we don’t see – personal experiences, tragedies and victories, scars from childhood, health issues, family issues, fears, failures, dreams, etc.
I love how Jesus throughout scripture looked deeper into people and didn’t take anyone at face value. He spent time in their homes, he got to know them intimately, he heard their stories, he valued them when the majority didn’t believe they deserved it.
Our world has so much division and I wonder where Jesus might be if He were here today. Would we be shocked to find that he might be hanging out with that person who annoys us at work? The gay next-door neighbor? The neurotic mom on the PTA? The successful, yet arrogant businessman?
What might we see if we went beyond face value and spent time getting to know one another like Jesus did? Who is someone this week you want to dig deeper and get to know? The first step in loving one another is asking who they are.
1 John 3:11 “This is the message you heard from the beginning:We should love one another.”