From Chapter Seventeen of Finding Faith in Slow Motion:
“It was nighttime and Jesus was eating with His disciples when a Canaanite woman came to Him, pleading for her daughter. Just like Jairus, the synagogue ruler who pleaded for his daughter, this woman was pleading for her daughter.
To begin, recognize that this woman should not even have existed. Joshua had been directed by God to exterminate the Canaanites. She was a non-Jew, Canaanite woman. She was outside every boundary that any male Jew would draw in regard to fellowship and godliness. She had to have known that! It is inconceivable to think that this woman considered it a small thing for her to approach a Jewish man the way she did. The cultural, racial, and gender gap could not possibly have been wider.”
The incident described above is from Matthew 15. Despite the differences between Jesus and the woman, she did approach him, and Jesus did interact with her, just as he interacted with the Samaritan woman at the well, again despite the cultural, racial and gender gap between them. In fact, it is to the Samaritan woman that Jesus made one of the most profound statements in all of recorded scripture regarding worship. The apostle Paul, a Jew, a man, a Pharisee … yet, he became Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles. How many biases did he have to overcome in order to do fulfill that ministry? It is no wonder that Paul said things like, “I die daily…” and “Let love be your greatest aim.”
One of the most difficult challenges I face over and over is learning to love people who are not like me. People who don’t look like me, or think like me, dress like me, smell like me. People who don’t value the things I value, or who believe things I don’t believe. It’s easy to love people who are just like me because … well, because they are just like me! And sadly, it is easy to sneer at, or be disgusted by, to slander or even despise people who are different than we are. There must be some deep defect within them because they think differently than we do, or they value things we are repulsed by. That just cannot be right!
I’m not expecting anyone to approve of behaviors or value systems that are immoral, but I am challenging each of us to understand that the man or woman in your sites is a human being created in the image of God. As repulsive and objectionable as I may find them, they are, to some degree, a reflection of the image of God, and we are called to love them on that basis.
Here is a good New Year’s Resolution for 2014: Challenge yourself to learn how to love people who are different from you.
Victoriously in Christ!