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  • RevDrGeraldWatford

Judging Strangers

“We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course. We are nuanced and complex and enigmatic. But the stranger is easy.” Those words by Malcolm Gladwell should matter to us as Christians. It is fairly common for us to misconstrue the motivations and intentions of others. As Christians, we live under the imperative of Biblical commands such as Matt. 5:44 “… I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Rom. 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you …” Phil. 2:3, “… in humility value others above yourselves.” These are just some of the verses which call us to a different lifestyle. They require that we see the stranger differently. They require that we grant to the stranger grace. Such a thing goes against the grain of how we usually think. But the above verses are not about thinking in ways which make us comfortable. They are about thinking like Christ. Thinking like Christ is a lifestyle or discipleship that our world needs desperately. Such verses call us to a very challenging level of engagement with our faith in Christ. The Bible is not just concerned with how we relate to those we like. We must also pay close attention to how we interact with those we don’t like or those who are strangers or those who persecute us. The people we don’t know but think we know can describe pretty much everyone we meet. So why not make the choice to extend to them the grace that God has extended to each of us. This would be impossible without help. One of the things I am most thankful for on this Friday after Thanksgiving is God’s help in equipping us to be and do everything He calls us to, especially changing how we treat strangers or enemies or anyone. Christ is always about reorienting our purpose and direction so that it brings glory to God. This may not always be a purpose or direction that we would choose apart from Christ. But then again, our recognition of a need for a change of purpose and direction is a foundational part of our relationships with Christ. Raise the bar on your discipleship the next time you meet a stranger.

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