There used to be this guy that lived across the road from me, he was one of those guys that was so easy to dislike. It wasn’t that he said something to me that set me off, it was the way he lived his life. He just didn’t care what other people thought, and that bothered me. So I labelled him, I defined him, I felt I knew him so well. I had these assumptions in my mind and I would play them over as I would see him, thinking I knew exactly what went on inside the walls of his home.
One day I was walking my dog, about a block away form my house, and he was standing between were I was and were I needed to go. I remember as I approached him there was this voice inside telling me there was something I needed to tell him. I knew the voice was God. The message he wanted me to tell him was “Hi my name is Aaron” and that I lived across the street. I remember walking up to him and introducing myself and he told me his name. This man was so much easier to dislike when he didn’t have a name, before he was a somebody, a father, a husband, a son, a child of God.
Labels do nothing more than describe a static moment in someones life. And they leave no room for the dynamic possibility of redemption, or hope, or change.
Mike Mason writes:
That to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity of the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.
How do we get to a place in our life were we think it is ok to look at people in these generalizations. We marginalize people by the way they live, by how much money they have, the music they listen to, their sexuality, there religion, there skin colour.
Is it because we have this misguided notion that somehow we can do that with God? Somehow we have defined God, we understand God, we are able to somehow confine him, we have shaped him in our own image. God after all like what we like and hates what we dislike.
I wonder if this notion comes from the idea that as Christians our goal is to invite the God of the universe to squeeze himself into our hearts. By inviting God in, he can see what we see and go were we go, and see the world within which we live. I remember in high school having this belief that I was to invite God into my school and bring him with me like he wasn’t there already – like somehow it was my idea, and it was my invitation for God to come.
I have no question that there is an invitation.
but I wonder if we have got it wrong.
What if the invitation isn’t for us to invite the God of the universe to come and live and dwell in our hearts. What if the invitation is from the God of the universe – inviting us to come and live in his heart. To come and see what he sees and hear what he hears, to come and live in him. And in doing so we would se the world differently. we would see people as humans, created in the image of God, looking for hope purpose and redemption.
Would that make a difference?
What if God asks us to love others not just because they need to know they are loved. But because we need to give love. What if in somehow in us giving of ourselves with no guarantee that they would ever love us back, somehow in us looking past labels and stereotypes and definitions to care for other people it changes us, it softens us, it molds us.
What if in that moment of us giving of ourselves, that is the moment we most resemble God himself.