1) That was in a movie: In the ¡°tar Wars Trilogy¡±, there is a scene that reminds us of some church people today. At a nightclub somewhere in a remote corner of the galaxy, grotesque looking creatures socializing over food and music. When Skywalker enters with his two droids, C3PO and R2D2 (who are more ¡°normal¡± than any one else there.) he is surprised to get turned away with a curt rebuff: ¡°We don¡¯t serve their kind here!¡±
2) That strange scene captures the malady that we all struggle with in our relationships here on planet Earth. We are always more comfortable with people who are just like us. But as followers of Christ, ¡°they are not my kind¡± should not in our vocabulary. As Paul reminds us, ¡°we are all one in Christ Jesus.¡± (Galatians 3:28) So, whether others are different in attitude, class, race, perspective, political slant or socio-economic standing; it should make no difference to those of us who are called by his name.
Even though the gene of segregation is in our nature, segregation in any shape or form can never bring anything good for anyone. Let¡¯s see what it can do to hurt our life and relationship:
NEGATIVE EFFECT ON PERSONAL LEVEL:
1) It reinforces your isolation: Few people can get you inside a jail cell socially or emotionally except yourself and segregating from people different than you is an effective way to do that: you keep others from coming into your life, or vise versa. Isolation by force is something nothing we can do. Isolation by choice is not a good choice for life.
2) It narrows your perspective: There are many dimensions to life in almost all circumstances. People from different background can bring us to a higher level of knowledge, perspective, mind-set or understanding than just what is in our limited circle of life. That is why we take trips to different places, visit people of different culture, language, eating foods that are different from what we used to eat. The world is much bigger than your little nest. Reach out and get connected.
3) It creates fear and conflict: When we build a wall around us to segregate others from coming in or we going out, we create some degrees of ignorance between us and others. Ignorance can create fear and fear leads to conflicts. Many interpersonal conflicts arise because of ignorance or misunderstanding.
4) It hampers your potential: There are things that can be achieved by more people from various backgrounds working together than just by you or people like yourself. In today¡¯s world, mobility of people is high, aspects of life are much broader, it takes more than one person or one group of people to make things happen. So, accepting and working with people who are different from us greatly increases our productivity.
NEGATIVE EFFECT IN CHURCH LEVEL:
1) It creates divisions: When people in a church cannot and will not accept or each other because of differences, division is inevitable. This is in direct opposition to the biblical call for unity. Jesus in his last prayer before crucifixion, he emphasized the need of unity among his disciples. Many otherwise growing churches were weaken or destroyed because of divisions.
2) It weakens witness: At the end of his prayer for unity of his disciples Jesus emphasized the important of this in their witness in John 17:23, ¡°I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me.¡± The worst damaging effect of a church in their witness to the world is their internal strife among God¡¯s people. If God¡¯s people can not get along, how can they bring anyone into their fellowship.
3) It reduces effectiveness: When people in the church couldn¡¯t accept each other, they are not going to work with each other, and so, the effectiveness of the church work will be reduces. In any given church, there are things that take more than a small group to work, to support to make successive. When one group is working hard without the support of other groups, the results won¡¯t be as good as all groups work together.
PRINCIPLES OF MUTUAL ACCEPTANCE: (Galatians 3:26-29)
1) We are all children of God: ¡°For you are all sons (children) of God in Christ Jesus.¡± (3:26)There are two basic meaning in this sentence: We are all God¡¯s children because we all have his life in us. We are all God¡¯s children so we all have the same privilege of status. Regardless of our personal preference on each other, we need to know that we are all in God¡¯s family as his children. If God accepts all of us as his children, who do you think you are not to accept some of them just because they are not your kind? If Jesus see you not his kind and reject you, where would you be in his kingdom? You may have choice where you want to go to school or to work or to live, but you have NO choice who will be your siblings. God has made all his choice, not us. ¡°All¡±, puntes in Greek, is inclusive without exception, including those who may not be your kind.
2) We are all clothed in Christ: ¡°For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.¡± (3:27) ¡°Put on¡± enedusasthe, from en-duw, to enter into, to put on clothe, to be covered with. All God¡¯s children, regardless of who, how and what they are, we are baptized into Christ, covered by Christ. So, when we see another person in God¡¯s church, we should only see Christ, not that person. Christ had covered us with his blood, his grace and his love. If we see people in the church without seeing Christ, we disrespect what God has done for that people. Christ covers us all, our sins and all our shortcomings. Let us accept one another in Christ.
3) We are all one in Christ: ¡°There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.¡± (3:28)The above three differences between people were the most obvious and ardent reasons of segregation in the society in Paul¡¯s time. But Paul said, above all the obvious divisions, we are all one in Christ Jesus. ¡°Neither¡±, ouk eni in Greek means ¡°cannot be.¡± All who are in Christ, ¡°cannot be¡± seen as divisive classes. When we see people in God¡¯s church, we cannot see them as Jew or Greek, free or slave, men or women, rich or poor, educated of illiterate. These classifications cannot be our criteria to judge people. Since we are all God¡¯s children, we are on in Christ.
4) We are all heirs of the promise: ¡°And if you are Christ¡¯s, then you are Abraham¡¯s seed, heirs according to the promise.¡± (3:29) ¡°Heirs¡±, Kleronomoi, from klepos, to receive or posses and Vemomai, inheritance. All who are justified by faith in Christ have the promise of God to receive inheritance for this life and eternal life to come. Those whom you think are not your kind, or not equal to you in some way, they will receive the same inheritance from God as you do. They are equally qualified in God¡¯s eyes and are precious to his heart. Equality is the key in God¡¯s church regardless of all the manmade differences that may separate one from another.
1) There is NO perfect kind: Usually we love ¡°my¡± kind more than anyone else, yet sometimes, we don¡¯t even like my ¡°self.¡± Our likes and dislikes change from time to time, so there is NO perfect kind of people in this world. If you are so picky on the kind of people you may or may not like to associate with, work together, live closely or befriend with, then you will be isolated from most people and your life will be very lonely. Think of it, are you the ¡°right kind¡± of people others should like you? If not, why so picky in seeking for ¡°your¡± kind of people? Variety is a good thing in life: food, clothing, work, friends, personality, etc, the list can go one for miles. Relax, open up, you will see the beautiful of God¡¯s creation in making so many kinds of people.
2) Jesus, the best kind: No one in human history if more perfect than Jesus, his life, character, personality, purpose, ways to live his life and his achievements. If Jesus is also picky in making friends with ¡°his¡± kind, he won¡¯t find anyone in this world. But he humbled himself, came to this world, become a man lived in all sinful men and love all of them, even died for them. Paul says, ¡°Make your attitude like that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to grasp for his own advantage. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when he had come as a man in his external form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death¡ªeven to death on the cross. For this reason, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that, at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of those who are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. (Phil 2:5-11) If you like the best kind, choose Jesus to be your friend, your savior and Lord.