White Like Me

I remember picking up the book Black Like Me at a friend’s house sometime in 1964 as an eighth grade student. Published in 1961 it was the account of a white journalist’s travels in the Deep South disguised as a black man at a time when racial tensions in our country were strained. His objective was to experience life from the other side.

To say the least it was an eye-opening read for a young white boy. Although I was raised in California, my contacts with people who were not like me were limited. In all of my formative years I had one Asian friend, Wesley and one black friend, Leonard. In addition there were a handful of children of Hispanic immigrant workers, who came in and out of school. Many of them never stayed long; their parents were following the crops.

The vast majority of people I knew were White. Like. Me.

That situation leads to a very narrow perspective. When you only know people like you, you don’t learn that differences exist. You think, especially at a young age, that the world is filled with people who are exactly like you. People who look like you. People who think like you. People who have the same values and outlook on life as you.

That first exposure to the real world where differences exist, even through a book, can be a upsetting to your little world. That was what happened to me as I read the story of John Howard Griffin’s journey into another world. A world that I knew little about.

We have a similar problem today.

Not that we don’t know about the others, but that we don’t want to know. We want to live with blinders on. To act like they aren’t there – if we ignore them they might go away. If we oppose them they will run. If we shout loud enough we won’t hear what they are saying.

We want people to be like us, especially if we’re from a European descent. It’s just easier that way.

The problem that many people have is that the immigrants who are ruining America aren’t like us. The LGBT crowd that is destroying the morals of our country isn’t like us.

And it’s true – they’re not.

But that’s not the most crucial factor, especially for Christians.

What’s important is that they are people. And for the Christian – at least for those who really care what God thinks and what the Bible says – that’s more important than what they look like, or where they came from or even what they believe or how they act.

They are people who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). People God loves (John 3:16). People who can be reached with the gospel (Matthew 28:19). People who have an eternal destiny (Hebrews 9:27).

We need to stop wishing that the world (or our country) was different – that people were like us, and begin to see people with the eyes of God.

If we did, we wouldn’t care if they were White. Like. Me.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

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Everyone Has a Story

You may have read the story of the AP photographer who was assigned to take pictures of the President at the White House. The only problem was that the President was on vacation so there were no photo-ops that day. Looking for something to do the photographer began to take pictures of homeless people living on the streets near the White House. One of those pictures, of a young man named Nick huddled against a steam grate trying to keep warm in the extreme cold, made it into USA Today. Someone recognized him, his parents were notified, they were reunited with their lost son and the rest is history.

When the photographer learned what had happened she commented that this serves as a reminder to journalists that every person they encounter has a story to tell. “It’s really gratifying to see that a photograph can make a tangible difference in someone’s life.” You can read the story here.

What stands out in this heart-warming story is how little it took to make a difference in Nick’s life. A photographer wandering the streets, looking for a story snapped a random picture of one homeless man and his life was changed forever. Why Nick? There were probably dozens, if not hundreds, of homeless people on the streets that day. Why did the newspaper pick up that particular story out of the many stories that were submitted for publication? All it took was one picture.

Thankfully this journalist understood that these homeless people were not just objects to be pitied. That every person has a story to tell. I’m glad that Nick’s story turned out well in the end.

One of the interesting things about Christ was how He took time to learn people’s story. If anyone could have used the excuse that He was busy, it was Christ. He had just a little over three years to accomplish His life’s mission. But He took time to listen to the Samaritan woman by the well (John 4); to engage Blind Bartimaeus on the road outside of Jericho (Mark 10); to go to the house of Jairus and raise his daughter from the dead (Mark 5); to spend the night at Zacchaeus’ (Luke 19). He was interested in people, not just as numbers or objects to be used but as individuals who had a unique and compelling story.

Everyone that you will come into contact with today will have a story. Some will be stories of hidden pain and suffering. Some will be stories of a prodigal son or daughter. Some will be stories of broken dreams. Some will be stories too personal to share. All will be stories that make that person who they are.
It’s when you take time to listen to people’s stories that you learn about their greatest joys, their deepest needs and the secret longings of their heart. It’s when you take time to listen that you will have the opportunity to connect them to Jesus, the One who can put their story into perspective and bring purpose and meaning to their lives.

What about the people that you will come into contact with today? What’s their story? They all have one. Will you take time to learn their story?

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve