A fresh wind is blowing. “A fresh wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
A fresh wind blowing was our theme for the Quadrennial Meeting I attended in Oklahoma City recently. This was a United Methodist Women’s event. I was actually dreading this event. I thought it was going to be a bunch of boring meetings and speeches. I dutifully went. Boy was I surprised. We went a day early and visited several Oklahoma sites before the event started. I so enjoyed the company of the women who I was with. The fellowship was heartwarming.
The day of the event came and I began to get excited. God had amazing things planned for us that weekend. The speakers, the music, the fellowship with others; it was all amazing.
The first weekend I was away it was all about learning to get in the trenches and caring for people as they walked through difficult days. This weekend was about learning to love those who are different, come from different cultures, and those who live a different lifestyle.
Because we were in Oklahoma several Native Americans from different tribes presented dances and shared with us one way or another. We experienced a Worship Service with Communion as they would celebrate. Instead of the traditional bread and juice we had grape dumplings.
The thing that God taught me this weekend was to lay my prejudices aside and to learn to love all people; to see Christ in them. I am not to be judge and jury that is God’s job. What I am to do is love them. In the Bible it says very clearly, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
So if you want to modernize this you could say there are no Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics or Muslims or the homeless, or those suffering from mental illness for we are all one in Christ Jesus. I was raised in an all Caucasian neighborhood and did not experience diversity. Even when I changed schools there was not much diversity. I had stayed that way pretty much until I arrived in Texas. It wasn’t until I got on the District board and started attending United Methodist Women’s groups that diversity became a part of my life. When I began to volunteer I began to experience many different cultures and lifestyles. It was challenging for me. I can’t say I have done an excellent job at doing what God has called us to do which is loving our neighbor no matter the color, the background or the lifestyle. Looking back I have fallen in love with some special people who are different than me. I have some of the most awesome African American friends who are more like brothers and sisters in Christ to me. Volunteering has put me in touch with some wonderful Hispanic ladies. I look forward to their arrival each month so I can share with them and exchange hugs. I am learning to look past the color, background and language and love them for who they are. I see the light of Christ in them.
All weekend we were being challenged to love those who are different. There is a segment of people that I was still struggling with. God laid it on my heart all weekend to see them as He sees them. I am not to judge them. I am not to judge their actions, I am to love them and see the light of Christ in them.
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I am reminded of Peter walking on the water. He could walk on the water and be just fine as long as He focused on Christ, but when He took his eyes off of Jesus He began to sink. When we focus on seeing Jesus in others we can reach out and love them with the same love God has for us. It’s when we begin to lose focus and we see the circumstances going on around them that we begin to fail in loving them. When we see what we think are injustices or we begin to listen to others bring people down and we begin to side with them we are losing our focus. When we judge them for their actions or mistakes we aren’t focused on them; we are judging them.
There is a fresh wind blowing. Christ has taught me to love and to stay focused. He has taught me not to look at the surroundings or their circumstances but to keep my eyes on Him. He can be found in each person we encounter. It’s up to us whether we focus on Christ in that person or we focus on the things that are surrounding that person.
I will block my ears to the rhetoric that is happening in so much of our world and focus on seeing Christ in each and every person no matter the color, lifestyle or the religion or the nationality. Won’t you join me in reaching out and loving others? It’s really a matter of reaching out and loving Christ and seeing Christ in others we encounter every day.
What difference would it make to you or to those around you if you focused on seeing Christ in everyone you encountered? What kind of impact could we make as disciples of Christ?
Dear God: I get it. I am to stay focused on you and when I meet people I am to see not their nationality, lifestyle or their religion. I am to see you in them and to love them just as you love me. Help me block those things from my mind, ears and heart that others say that bring people down. Let me lift others up through your love, grace and mercy. Let me love others as you have loved me. Amen