This week I was having a discussing with a few brothers regarding “Kinship”. As we meet people in our lives, it can be really easy to stand back and avoid certain people based on how they look or act externally. I know this is particularly accurate in the areas I grew up in and where I currently live.
I grew up in a predominantly minority filled neighborhood that was known for violence and struggle. Within our community, if anyone entered that didn’t look like us, we were automatically suspicious of them. We never bothered to get to know people that looked different.
Now as I’m older, I live in a place where I am one of the only ones who looks a certain way. I constantly see the looks and sometimes the extended stares. It’s easy for me to run and hide and avoid certain areas or people. But what do I gain? More or less, what does God’s people gain? Nothing… My background and story could be useful for others to try and understand all walks of life.
It’s really simple for us to look at outward appearances and make judgments and ultimately avoid them. If we do this, we never get to see the person they were created to be. My tattoos, my hairstyle, my language, and my clothes don’t fully define me. It’s what’s inside that matters. When we open in conversation with others, and break through the outer wall, we start to notice many similarities. More importantly we start to see who God created us to be. This is important because we know that laborers are few and the harvest is plenty. We could use all the laborers out there for the work of God. To proclaim his good news.
Recently I read a true story about a gangster from southern California who was a convicted felon. He and a few others were invited to the White House. The story was very entertaining as you read about their food experiences, the secret services concerns, and about their first-time wearing suits. These felons were some hard-looking guys. The story took a great turn when they described that on the flight back home, one of the gangsters had a long conversation at the back of the plane with the flight attendant. As he approached his seat, the other people who he was on the trip with, asked him what had taken so long. The gangster said that he told the flight attendant about their trip and that she started to cry. You would think initially that he made her cry because of his outward appearance and maybe due to something he said wrong. But instead, she cried because she saw this man’s true heart. She saw that a society reject was accepted and giving and opportunity to dine at the White House. She saw what God had created in him and who he truly was. No matter his past. No matter his appearance. No matter his clothes or language, this gangster was a child of God. Capable of so much more.
You and I may be able to hide what’s inside by making sure our outer appearance doesn’t’ cause concern. However, remember this… If people saw the inside of our hearts and minds, we would all be avoided. God does see our hearts and He is patient and gracious with us. May we never forget that true Kinship comes when you look past the outside and look at what’s inside people. If God was patient with us how can we not be patient with others? Let’s continue to share, live, and read the gospels. Let’s encourage and build each other up. Let’s get to know people for who God created them to be. Let’s take a chance because He took a chance on us.
Matthew 9:35-38 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Ezekiel 11:19 New International Version (NIV)
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 New International Version (NIV)
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Hebrews 8:10 New International Version (NIV)
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Mark 12:30-31 New International Version (NIV)
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
1 John 1:7 New International Version (NIV)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.
Proverbs 17:17 New International Version (NIV)
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
1 Samuel 16:7 New International Version (NIV)
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”