Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Have you ever seen a person or a group judged by their appearance or how they act? Maybe not even their race, ethnic background or orientation, but how they dressed, the color of their hair, or what they believe? Does the actions or words of one person always speak for the whole group?
Every day we make decisions about what we see or hear when we have the facts to support them. We also base some on what we think we see, hear, or know to be true. When we make assumptions on what another person thinks or feels we run the risk of getting it wrong and making a situation worse than it already is.
This is especially true when there is a group that catches the publics attention with what they are doing. We still have to be careful jumping to any conclusions when a person or part of that group becomes disruptive. Many times these actions do not speak for the entire group and can take away from the good effort the group is trying to accomplish.
So how should we react? What should we think? What should we do? These three questions come up every day, but should not necessarily shape what we say or do. We actually need to be patient with our response and need to ask other questions. Most of the time we do this when we have important decisions to make in our life so why not in everything we do.
Let’s start with the obvious question. Do I know the person or group? How about why they are doing or saying what they are? If we go by what someone else tells us or even what we see on the news or social media, then we are not acting on complete information. It is too easy for us to give our opinion about someone when we do not know everything.
I have had people tell me wrong information about a person or situation that caused me to come to the wrong conclusion. When I checked back with them, I found out that they really didn’t know and were giving me their own opinions or repeating bad information. This is why we should all be our own investigative reporters.
You could insert any number of phrases in here like, “Leave no stone unturned” or “Get to the bottom of it.” If you don’t know a person, talk to them. If you don’t know what a group stands for, find out. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 7:24, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
Even if you do pursue this, you have to be careful that you approach it the right way. There were times when I tried to ask a person a simple question and I only succeeded in getting them angry. A few times I was able to calm the person down enough to ask them why I upset them. This is when I learned that without realizing it, I would come off too harsh.
After this I tried to remember to soften my tone and to choose better words. This reminded me of the advice in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” This allowed me to have actual conversations that were in some cases very enlightening. I also had to learn that I not only needed to have a measure of tolerance, but always approach with love.
The tolerance was mainly for me so that I kept an open mind and did not allow myself to be easily offended. If I did it would only close my ears and prevent me from really hearing what the person was telling me. Then when you approach with love you are keeping any negative barriers from affecting the communication that you seek.
In the end we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and not what other people say we are. It seems that all the negative forces in society spend so much time and energy to convince us that we are too different or certain people do not deserve our love. This is why we need to find the positive truth that comes from God.
Jesus reached out to everyone around him no matter who they were. They were all his children and neighbors who deserved his love no matter what they did. These are the same neighbors that he told us to love and if we are truly followers of Christ, it is up to us to follow his example. It is not the easiest thing to do and may take time until you can.
Paul reminded us in Galatians 3:28 that we are not supposed to be divided as society says. “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Not different, but one people in Christ. This was not only his example and message, but also the love that he showed the world.
Division brings hate and unrest, but Ephesians 2:14 shows what Christ brought. “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” The peace and unity that we can still have today.
So, join me in taking the time to talk to your neighbors and find out more about why things are happening. Reflect the love of Christ as we do and we can break down more of the manmade barriers we have built to separate ourselves. Also please enjoy “Come Together to Thrive.”
COME TOGETHER TO THRIVE
Is that hate or fear I see being projected in your eyes?
Do you speak the truth or just repeat another set of lies?
There are lines being drawn and sides we are asked to choose,
But no one wants to hear the other as we watch the burning fuse.
With brother fighting brother some families are being torn,
Not just for the color of skin but clothes that are being worn.
Lord, when trouble strikes we come together for the good of all,
So why in times of peace do we want the other to fall?
My child, there are forces that surround you that you do not see,
Some that hold you prisoner while others will set you free.
The forces that are holding some captive are not coming from above,
But they can often be overcome if you go to them with patient love.
You can use my strength and pray that the other side will hear,
That you are not their enemy and they can set aside their fear.
Your diversity is your strength and should not be causing a divide,
Fore if you stand united in my name you will Come Together To Thrive.
Simple Faith Christian