25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
We all profile people a little bit. We make subtle judgments about a person based upon their outward appearance, the actions of their lives, or even by the way they speak. In too many situations it's become an “us against them” mentality with them being wrong and us being right. We don't take the time to get to know someone because we already know that they aren't “our” kind of people, so there’s no reason for us to waste our time.
A simple perusal through the Gospels will show us very quickly that Jesus didn't have this hang-up. He chose to step into a very heated exchange with the woman taken in the act of adultery and cause each one of her accusers, with stones in their hands, to leave one by one, only to relieve her of even His own perceived condemnation. The account of Jesus with the woman at the well shows a non-judgmental savior. The woman was a Samaritan, hated and rejected as an outcast of the worst type, especially by the Jews. Yet, Jesus goes through Samaria to have this solitary conversation. By the end of their talk, Jesus declared Himself the Messiah and she gratefully accepted that revelation.
Jesus said “He was come to seek and to save that which was lost” and “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” and “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. People that are lost have problems. People who are sick have hang ups. People who are sinners have sin. And, all these people are our neighbors. No matter if they look like us, act like us, talk like us or even like us. We are all neighbors.
God help us to reach our neighbors,
John Donne wrote "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." The Apostle Paul wrote "So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." We have learned that the "Lone Ranger" approach to life, just doesn't cut it. Whether we are facing a new challenge, just need someone to talk to or (let me borrow something from this generation) are just bored, we are thankful that others exist. We need each other and we are more interconnected than we think we are.
But, more important than just having someone around, what can we learn from each other? What is the purpose of all our different ways of understanding, problem-solving and communicating if we don't learn from each other? Think about:
But, have we become so full of pride that we can't acknowledge and learn from the strengths of others? Are we afraid if we lift others up it only serves to highlight the glaring inadequacies that we possess? I say if we will take the time to learn from others, it will allow others to learn from us, as well. I'm not prideful, but there are some things that I do well. I'm also not a negative Nancy, but there are things I don't do well and others that I have to struggle to just get done. But, I've learned to learn something by talking to you, being around you and watching your life.
I know in our world of "social media" (could that be anymore ignorantly named?) we can't bear the thought of actually having a conversation with words, inflection, facial cues and emotion, but if you will take the time to notice those around you, you will find there is a lot to learn. So put your phone, laptop or tablet away, and go learn something.
Keep learning, keep growing.