What do you see when you look at another person? Do you see their race? Gender? Do you guess about their religion? Politics? Sexual orientation? Hobbies? Job? Home life?
It can be a fun game, as long as it remains a detective game.
Far too often we then let it be a gut reaction on how we interact with that person. We associate the person with a group, we check our mental file on that group, and we respond based on our feelings about that group.
God doesn’t love groups. God loves individuals.
That is the inherent tension between Judaism and Christianity, right? The tension we see in New Testament is that rather than God saving the Jews, he opened the door of salvation to any one.
That is also how we are going to learn to love. Not accepting groups we may not agree with, but loving individuals.
We can love impersonally, in a broad sense of contributing to their well being and treating people with respect.
That is not how God loves. God loves you. The person. The individual. He knows you and still loves you.
That is how we will learn to love. By knowing other individuals. That is how we will understand their situation. That is how we will have compassion and grace.
“I don’t like Them.” Do you know any of them? Not as a “them” but as a “him” or a “her.” Do you know individuals?
We love individuals. We care about individuals. We have to deal with individuals.
“But they are wrong.” The command of Christ to love is greater than any obligation to moral correction. Love first, ask questions latter. You are wrong too, God loves you anyway.
If we are to live up to the call of Christ to love one another as he first loved us (John 13:34), we must stop judging based on what we see alone. We must love. We must remove from our language and attitudes words and thoughts that group people into categories. Jesus showed love not to Samaritans, but to a Samaritan woman. Jesus had compassion not on Romans, but on a Roman centurion.
So I challenge you: See one person today as an individual not as part of a group. Try to get to know that one person without reacting to who you think they are, but who discover him or her to be. Then do it tomorrow.
See as God sees. See the individual. See with love.