"You are not suppose to dress like that."
"A Christian does not have tattoos."
"You say you're a Christian and that's the way you live?"
How often do we say or think that, as believers? Yet, Christ, never said anything like that to people. He had compassion. Yes, He did get upset with the money changers in the temple. Thank goodness He did show that emotion. It makes Him more human in our eyes.
He didn't condemn people. He loved them. He lived a life of perfection, but we cannot. Our goal is to reach toward perfection in Christ. The reality is, we will never reach perfection as Christ did; so make sure we do not make it our goal in life to try to make others perfect. Our goal is to live life with Christ in us by being compassionate and caring, loving people into the Kingdom of God.
We sometimes forget that concept in our churches. We want to reach out to our communities; yet, when someone that looks different than us walks through our door, we stare at them, we avoid them, or we ridicule them. It is important to ask ourself these questions: "Do I do that because I am uncomfortable?" Then ask God to help you step out of your comfort zone and reach out. "Do I do that because I expect them to look like me?" God help us! Some of us, I dare say, do not need little clones of ourselves running around.
Or, do we just not know how to relate and reach out? If that is the case, I would seek help in this area. The Great Commission is to reach out to those near us first. God understands our struggles and desires to help us. Some of us in leadership in our churches, need to ask God to help us open our eyes and accept people, for who they are; not what they are suppose to be.
I ran across a saying from Martin Luther I had written in my journal about four years ago. (That is why we need to get our journals out from time to time...nuggets of wisdom are in there.)
"This life therefore
is not righteousness
but growth in righteousness
not health but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be
but we are growing toward it,
the process is not yet finished
but is going on,
this is not the end
but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory
but all is being purified."
Martin Luther (emphasis my own)
Remember, we are on a journey...Are we there yet? Not quite.