Friday, June 13, 2014

The Power of the Story

On June 8, I shared the story of how a person, who may have been an angel transformed my attitude toward poor people. I met a man who seemed to be lying to me in order to gain my sympathy so that I would give him some money. And the man proved to be telling the truth. I failed to mention how I got to know the man in the process of helping him repair his vehicle and get on his way. When I regarded the man's humanity, my attitude toward him changed.

Jesus defended Himself for healing a woman on the Sabbath by telling those who would accuse Him, “this woman is a daughter of Abraham.” (Luke 13:16) He constantly forced people to look past the ideology of their religious and secular positions to the human consequences of their judgment. Jesus reclined at supper in the house of Simon the Pharisee and while Simon was judging Jesus for letting a prostitute touch Him, Jesus was considering the woman. He knew Simon's mind and although Simon correctly knew who and what the woman was, Jesus asked him to go beyond his judgment and said: “do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44)

Jesus taught us a new way of perceiving one another. He taught us to look at people as individuals and see their needs instead of judging them by our own worldview. We can get so caught up in our own perceptions that we forget what it is like to be someone who is different.

As a child, I developed my love for reading through the autobiographies of some of our nations great leaders. One of the most poignant stories I read was Benjamin Franklin's. Franklin let this axiom guide his life, taken from a Native American proverb: “Never judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes (moccasins).” Understanding people comes from knowing their story. And the story transforms us from judgmental to loving Christians.

When I regard the marginalized in our society, the minorities, the majority, the poor, the rich, the right, the left, the undocumented, those with different gender identities, and every one else who is ostracized by one group or another I remember that every one of them has a story that has shaped their lives. And my first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God and the King calls them “neighbor” and “brother/sister.” I/we must do the same.

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