I was sitting at a restaurant the other day and there was a table of about ten women with one empty chair. A couple minutes later I saw a young lady walking up to the door and just KNEW that the empty chair was for her. Turns out, I was right. For better or for worse, we tend to associate with people like us.
I make judgments of others and shown favoritism or “prejudice” for those that I choose as friends, not in any malicious way, I don’t believe, but I gravitate toward people who are “like me.” It’s natural. Like osmosis (that we learned about and quickly forgot in science class): water moves from areas of high concentration to low concentration. It’s the path of least resistance. It’s comfortable. It’s easy.
Fortunately for me, being a campus minister in a new campus ministry, I don’t get to pick and choose who walks through that door. No matter who they are, they are valuable to me; one, because I want people here, and two, because they are valuable to God. Under other circumstances I probably wouldn’t know most of the people that I know right now. Maybe our personalities don’t click, or we don’t have common interests, or we don’t walk in the same circles, or we have a hard time understanding one another (linguistically or culturally)!
But being a part of Genesis means that I spend time with people from many different backgrounds: cultural, financial, religious, social, and whatever other kind of backgrounds there are. As we spend time together I learn about people; I get to know their personalities; and despite our differences, we become friends. When we go out together as a group we must stick out like a sore thumb because we cover nearly the entire “spectrum” of skin color…
And do you know what I’ve realized? That it is absolutely fantastic!
Being with people who aren’t “like me” means our friendship starts with me seeing them the same way Jesus saw people. Jesus fought through ASSUMPTIONS to make CONNECTIONS, connections with those no one else wanted to make a connection with. When my first impression says, “Not a chance!” Jesus whispers, “But I love them.”
When we fight through ASSUMPTIONS to make CONNECTIONS with different kinds of people, we find that God’s love is as wide and diverse as his people. Diversity is difficult; it WILL BE messy. But when we fight through our assumptions to connect with different people who are made in the image of God we get a glimpse of heaven on earth, where people of EVERY tribe, nation, and tongue will praise God together