LIVING AS APPRENTICES
I was so moved by a column written by Charita Goshay of the Canton (Ohio Repository) who writes for Gateway News Services that I can’t help but share a portion of it. It appeared in the January 15 issue of the Holland Sentinel (Goshay can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Commenting on our rigid presumptions about other people before we ever even speak to them, Goshay writes:
“Some of the tensions we’re experiencing as a nation right now are due in part to our abject refusal to see another for what we are: human beings. So what stops us? Fear, anger, resentment, prejudice, ideology, and self-satisfying presumptions of others. And its poisoning everything. History shows us that ignoring our humanity enables us to treat one another with appalling cruelty . . . .
We glide through our days somewhere between oblivion and paranoia. Contrary to evidence that the world is becoming less dangerous, we’ve become convinced it is a scorched and forsaken place, filled with people just looking for trouble. So why fuel the fire by acknowledging their presence even for a moment. In reality, the world is filled with fragile, struggling, insecure beings who constantly question their place on this spinning blue marble.
In this new year, let’s all endeavor to look beyond the hoodies, the skin pigment, the tattoos and beards. It will take a strong will to change our habits. If we do, we’ll discover a human behind every face.”
One of the reasons Jesus was vilified in his time on earth was his insistence on welcoming, speaking with, healing, and forgiving anyone who came his way. He ignored all the social prejudices of his day and refused to stereotype anyone. One of the worst criticisms the religious leaders leveled at him was that he ate with sinners. As if his accusers were sinless.
Apprentices of Jesus are called to follow their master into the societal fray. We are called to treat others as Jesus would. How often have you and I made judgments about a person based on his or her weight, hair style, dress, tattoos and piercings, skin pigment, accent, ethnic appearance? For the next week, let’s all pay attention to how we classify the strangers we meet in the supermarket, on the sidewalk, at school, at a basketball game, in church, at a meeting or conference, sitting in a car. What are we presuming about them before we even know them? And what might they be presuming about us?
Let’s confess our judgmental spirits to God as soon as we recognize those spirits. And then let’s plan to smile at or speak to the strangers we come upon – before we have the change to judge them.