Moving Beyond Stereotypes
Some of the most beautiful and awful aspects of being human are discovered in the frail and finite ways that we interact with one another.
There is beauty to be found in the mystery of another human being--mystery that is contained behind the facade of a smile, an imperceptible nod or blush.
We've all had those moments when we think we know someone, but then they surprise us with their wonderful secrets and closely held bright thoughts and ideas, and we realize (to our delight) we never really knew them at all.
But there is something awful in this frailty, too. More often than not we never try to look beyond the surface, and tend to believe the worst about a person before getting to know them properly.
We also assume things about one another based on appearance, class, religion, gender and so many other cultural identifiers without critique, without any thought to how our stereotyping might be dead wrong.
For those of us who follow Jesus, we have an example in him that challenges us to rise above our shallow, and two-dimensional visions of one another. Through Jesus we have the most incredible demonstration of God's great love for human beings---beings who are created (as we read in the Creation story) in "God's image."
The Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus:
"...being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."
In other words, God honored humanity by taking on human form in Jesus, who was the physical manifestation of God, the second "person" of the Trinity, God in the flesh taking up residence among us. In the words of Eugene Peterson, the Creative Word of God (Jesus) took on human form and "moved into the neighborhood."
So to those of us who would be followers of Christ---let us celebrate the beautiful aspects of our frail and finite vision when it comes to others who are also created in God's image. Let us look upon all human beings with the joy that comes in uncovering a mystery.
The poet Rumi's words come to mind as a wonderful exhortation:
"Bow to the essence in a human being. Do not be content with judging people good and bad. Grow out of that."
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.