We are all different. That's something that I have always know but not really acknowledged in my day to day life. Now we are all different of course in the way we look and how we act; these things are obvious. This week God has really been teaching me how to love others who are different than me.
For most of my life, I grew up around the same people who had pretty similar thought processes as me. I went to school with the same people for 13 years, so I was used to being around people who thought like me and acted like me (to an extent) College has really expanded my interactions with different people.
For a while, I used to avoid people who were different than me. It just seemed weird right? Like why have people around me who don't agree with me or have the same thought process like me? Many times when I dealt with people who were different I would either avoid them or I would eventually leave them at a certain point. Many times I would get frustrated and most of all judgmental. I couldn't understand why they were doing certain things or why they were acting a certain way. To me, it just wasn't logical. But that is the thing, I was basing my judgments of people on my own logic. That isn't fair because to some people what I do is probably different and weird. This mindset is something that I work on each day to correct.
"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" Matthew 7:5 (NIV)
Just because we have differences does not mean we have the right to judge others. Jesus encountered so many people during his ministry who were different than him. Many of these people he was not supposed to interact with because they were considered "unclean." Jesus had the courage to speak to them anyway. Jesus did not judge, he simply loved. Even Jesus was different and he was the opposite of imperfect. Our society is so filled with judging other's actions that we don't even stop to think about the motives behind their actions. Even if we don't understand their motive or agree with them, we can still love them just as Jesus loved those who were different than him. Judging others because of their differences only makes you look bad in the end. It proves that you were unwilling to 1) recognize that you are not perfect and 2) learn that loving others despite their differences is what makes us stronger.
"Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:11-12
Many times I see this with other Christians. We tend to judge people who do not believe or people who simply do not have the "same amount of faith" as we do. As a Christian, I can say that I am not perfect. I fall each and every day just like everyone else. Yet for some reason, there are Christians in society who have a tendency to believe that we are perfect because of our faith. That is nowhere near the truth. We are not perfect and being a Christian does not give us the right to judge anyone. Jesus did not judge us, he simply died for everyone's sins, not just ours.
Our differences do not make us imperfect or less deserving of God's love. Yes, even you are different. In some way, shape, or form you don't conform to whatever other people see as normal and that is good. God did not create you to be the same anyways; he created us all differently. But for some reason, we feel the pressure to conform to society standards to be the same and we don't. You do not have to be like someone else for God to love you. God loves all of us, no matter who we are. He also makes time for us. He doesn't reserve his time for just his followers, he makes time for everyone. Just as God treats us we need to treat others. Yes, there will be people in your life who are different than you. They may have different issues or problems that you truly might not understand. But that does not give us the right to judge; it gives us the right to love and to pray that God opens up our hearts to accept other's differences just as we accept our own.