So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:27
It started when I saw a colleague’s post on social media in which he espoused a view I found ignorant. “What an idiot!” I found myself thinking. “That kind of thinking is what’s wrong with our country!”
Then I had an immediate epiphany. No. My kind of thinking is what’s wrong with our country.
The people of our nation and our world have become deeply, though I pray not permanently, divided. We’re quick to judge one another based on appearances, religion, race, occupation, political views and other physical and ideological differences.
We have lost the ability to value people as fellow human beings. We have lost the ability to value people despite their appearances or their viewpoints. We have lost the ability to have a civil discourse. We have lost sight of our Creator and our responsibility before Him to treat one another as we ourselves want to be treated.
I am a white, middle-aged conservative Christian woman of largely European heritage. I have friends who look like me, believe like me, vote like me and have similar ancestry to mine. And, despite my momentary frustration with my colleague’s view, I also have friends who don’t look like me, believe like me, vote like me or share my ancestry. Their experiences and their worldviews are vastly different. And we’re still friends.
It is possible to value another person and his right to hold an opposing view without holding that view yourself. It is also possible to find commonality with other people for the sake of having a dialogue.
In the life of a Christian, that dialogue becomes an opportunity to be a witness for Christ, whether in attitude alone or in words. But the world doesn’t want to listen to Christians if we’re not willing to reciprocate. As the popular saying goes, “People care what you know when they know that you care.”
This is not a superficial, manipulative caring, either. We have to love as Jesus loves. After all, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). His loves equally, unconditionally and without prejudice.
Jesus does not love for the sake of achieving a goal. He loves because that’s His nature: God is love (1 John 4:8). As His ambassadors, we are to show His kindness, His forbearance, His grace and His love to a lost and dying world. That requires building relationships, and you cannot build relationships without honest conversation.
Make it your goal to reach out to someone vastly different from you – someone whose worldview may be in opposition to yours. Get to know her. Find ways to connect with her, perhaps through a common love for your kids or your pets. Become like Jesus and be a friend to sinners, just as He calls Himself your friend.
The next time you find yourself looking at someone in disdain, remember that person – just like you – was created in the image of God, who loves her with an everlasting love and gave His only begotten Son so that she could come into a saving knowledge of Christ regardless of who she is, what she’s done or what she believes. At the foot of the cross, you’ll find a level playing field.