I attended a surprise birthday dinner for a friend a few weeks ago and it was a mix of women who all knew the honoree, but were mainly strangers to each other. There was the usual amount of awkward small talk until the guest of honor arrived and I sat back observing the dynamic. I noticed my own insecurities rise to the surface as I observed how many of the women seemed younger than me (read less wrinkled) and how cute their outfits were. I began to mentally assess which women I might have enough in common with to strike up a conversation based on nothing more than superficial information. As I thought about my reaction to sitting at a table full of lovely women who I simply did not know, I began to question how I would have reacted at a table full of people who seemed less lovely to me or more dramatically different?
Isn’t it amzing the way we construct walls between us with little to no reason? How our own perceptions and insecurities create assumptions? I do not think I am alone in my reactions, yet the fact that they are common does not give a strong enough platform to rest on here. When Jesus entered our world he broke down walls and replaced them with bridges, most significantly the bridge for us to walk home to our heavenly Father. As a Christ follower, and one who deeply longs to share hope with others, I need to become a stronger bridge builder, and connector. I must get out of the business of finding all the differences and errecting a fortress out of them.
Here are three common truths we can all use to find our way across the sea of differences such as race, economic background, education, job, religion, family dynamics and build community that honors the life God gave each of us.
We are all wired to seek love. There is not a person alive who does not want it, hasn’t been in some way hurt by a broken version of it or isn’t afraid when they think the will lose it. When you think there is no common ground, you can love. And more importantly, you can point people with your words and actions to the love of God displayed through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. No one has ever shown love like Him.
We all long to belong. To find our tribe or family. Not only do we want to be loved, but we want to find a place we can relax, fit in and feel accepted. That somehow, these are my people. When you don’t know what you have in common with another human, remember they want to be welcome. Practice including. Opening your heart and home. Letting people settle into your life. Think about how everyone who struggled to fit in felt at ease with Jesus. Tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, sick and poor. He accepted them where they were, even as He called them to more healing and surrender.
We are all broken people in need of a Savior. I think this truth has done more to free me than any other. There are no good people. Not according to God’s word. We have all reached for something besides God to give us security or significance. We all worship a lesser god, in a sense, and that misplaced weight breaks us. Nothing can carry the weight of our soul but the One who died to rescue it. There is no human I encounter, no matter how successful or impoverished, that does not need to know and experience redemption. Knowing this allows me to be neither intimidated or superior to anyone I meet. We all stand on common ground before a good and righteous God, as one of my favorite quotes expresses, “I’m just a beggar, leading other beggars to the Bread of Life.”