“David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”” – 1 Samuel 21:12-15.
After a rocky first attempt at drawing crowds to his museum of oddities and a little inspiration from his daughters, P.T. Barnum starts posting ads calling for “unique persons” who would audition to become a part of a live variety show. Among the unique persons to join Barnum’s team of performers: a bearded lady, an abnormally tall man, trapeze artists, and many others. What they all had in common: these were people who were not accepted or valued by the society they were in. They were different. And because they were different they were hidden from society.
P.T. Barnum brought them into a family. He saw the gifts in them overlooked by others. He gave them a platform for purposeful service that brought meaning not just to their own lives but to the lives of others as well. He challenged the norm that said you can’t value or have meaningful relationships with people who are different from you.
Isn’t that just like what Jesus does? And what’s more, isn’t that what he asks us to do: “…Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” (Romans 13: 9-10) When society viewed women as inferior and as property, Jesus fought for them and included them. He welcomed them into His community of disciples and made them participants in the work of His Kingdom. (Luke 8:1-3; John 8:1-11) When the culture saw children as a distraction, Jesus brought them near and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16) When society built barriers of relational conflict between ethnic groups, genders, and socio-economic classes, Jesus broke down those barriers and made them one family through faith in Him. “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Jesus loves without boundaries and so should we. Jesus takes the “you’re not like me, therefore we have to be divided” mentality of our flawed human nature and shows us a better way to live and love. We are called and empowered by Him to genuinely love, value, and befriend people who are different from us. Christ-like love brings people together and welcomes people in, even if they’re different. Christ-like love loves across barriers, not within them. Christ-like love loves people into the fullness of life that God has for them.
Romans 17:6-7 says, “Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
- Your devotion to God is illustrated, demonstrated, and authenticated by your love for others. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
- What is one group of people that is different from you and that you find it difficult to love? Consider the words of Matthew 25:31–40 in light of that group. What are some obstacles you would have to overcome to love that group of people?