How do we see other people ? Do we simply see them as a series of black and white lines, easily definable and with no grey areas that make us stop and think ? or do we see others as a multi-coloured array of different dimensions ?
I think that too often its easy to simply categorise people into little compartments that suit our thinking or our way of life. It helps us if we can organise our thoughts on other people according to our own pre-set way of thinking rather than examining the whole person in front of us.
This came to mind in a casual FaceBook conversation last week with a young man I`m just getting to know. We discovered a mutual liking for the 1960`s television programme “The Prisoner”. If you`re not familiar with the concept of the programme or if it wasn’t to your taste I won`t dwell on it but suffice to say the great cry of defiance from the prisoner was “I AM NOT A NUMBER !” and that should be the cry of all of us when talking/sharing with others “I am not a number” but we also need to remember that neither are they just numbers. No, they are real human beings, with feelings, thoughts, opinions (just as valid as mine). They too have times of joy and despair, clarity and confusion, worry and anxiety just as I do. They too are products of their generation with that generations understanding and prejudices to be worked through and grown out of.
In short when we look at someone we shouldn`t just be aware of what we see, but we need to spend time with them, share with them and learn from them rather than the spontaneous judgementalism that we`re so often afflicted with and which ruins our potential relationships, and consequently our possibility of showing them Jesus.
In my time (and that sounds as though I`m moving towards old age) I`ve seen changes in attitude towards colour, religion, women Priests, same-sex relationships, people living together and so often I`ve had to stop and reassess what I really think. In some cases I`ve been deeply challenged and in others its reaffirmed what I already believed, but the point is that it can never be a simple black and white, non grey picture as real, God-created, human beings are involved.
I like the following two stories……………………….. Two apples up in a tree were looking down on the world. The first apple said, “Look at all those people fighting, robbing, rioting — no one seems willing to get along with his fellow-man. Someday we apples will be the only ones left. Then we’ll rule the world.”
Replied the second apple, “Which of us — the reds or the greens?”
General Robert E. Lee was a devout follower of Jesus Christ. It is said that soon after the end of the American Civil War, he visited a church in Washington, D.C. During the communion service he knelt beside a black man. An onlooker said to him later, “How could you do that?” Lee replied, “My friend, all ground is level beneath the cross.”
In the eyes of Jesus all people are to be loved (doesn`t mean that all will acknowledge him as Lord and Saviour), and respected. Look again at the picture at the tope of the screen (assuming you`ve studied it already and worked out who the handsome hunk is), but this time notice the word on the t-shirt: LOVE
Let us endeavour to be people of love rather than of judgemental prejudice.