Are We So Different?

Are We So Different? Christ –followers are often maligned for being socially exclusive, prudish, clannish and yes, hypocritical. Do we deserve the criticism? Yes, sometimes it’s valid. It’s been my observation that many people with no religious interests have similar short-comings. That’s how people behave. So, why the rub just with “the church?”  There’s an expectation that Christians should respond to people differently, more openly, more accepting. Jesus was all that, so isn’t it natural that his “followers” should imitate him?

The bible gives a refreshingly honest record of people’s lives, complete with their warts, sins, and virtues. People we revere as heroes weren’t always such stellar examples of morality and integrity, yet God used them and refined them. Easily God (and we) could have made hasty judgments and written people off: Abraham – liar; Jacob (Israel) – deceiver. Rahab – whore; Sampson – skirt-chasing Momma’s boy; David – adulterer and murderer; Solomon – polygamist; Matthew – cheat; Peter – coward; and Paul – persecutor and accessory to murder! Don’t you admire these “heroes?” The truth is, we do admire them . . . for who by God’s grace they became.

Jesus embraced the poor and sickly. He enfolded thieves into his company. He physically touched lepers, demonized people and even a hemorrhaging woman. And from the cross his eyes met and graced a murderer into paradise with him. Surely we, as Christians, are no better than anyone. We suffer from scars, temptations, and sin and can easily elevate our “goodness” and morality above that of others. But then there’s Jesus. He walks the streets and the halls and auditoriums of our churches today in our skin and yearns to offer acceptance, grace, compassion and love and to “touch” the divorced, the addicted, those having had abortions, the “pierced” and “inked,” the felons, those who are or were “gay,” the unwashed, the homeless, the depressed and the atheists.

Are we to treat any of these as “unclean” and “untouchable” as we evidenced lepers being treated in the Old Testament? Jesus came to expand our “comfort zones” and make them really wide. Without boundaries. And I remind you that Jesus took the initiative to reach others, not just respond to them. This same Jesus gave His Spirit to those who claim to follow Him and this same Spirit occupies a place in every believer’s heart, yearning to “life out” Jesus’ character through us. Jesus can help you stretch. How broad are your boundaries? Think About It.