• We start by being exclusive about where we feel we belong — but Christian maturity is learning to love and value others beyond our boundary
Our starting point in life and its various relationships is to love those of our own ‘tribe’. That can be a family, our home town (and football club!) or those who we feel affinity with. It’s about familiarity and trust.
And it’s to do with the prejudices we all carry. There’s a major-chain supermarket that I will not use unless I absolutely have to.
There is no objective reason for this. Their special lines are excellent, their service good, their local store very convenient. It is a subjective feelings-based judgment.
Coming to know God — whose very essence is love — through trusting Jesus, is a spiritual reset -- a new spiritual birth into a new life, which draws on God’s love from an inexhaustible source.
It gives us the capacity to love others: those beyond our tribe. It’s coming to accept and value those who are NOT like us.
We’re still left with human traits like our prejudices. The difference is, that now we recognise them for what they are. They don’t control us. We have a choice to say ’no’ to them.
When the Spirit of God is allowed to influence us — when we become more spiritually sensitive as opposed to religiously separated — we have the capacity to view others the way God sees them.
God sees precious people, made in His image: a diverse bunch and mostly not like us. It is a profound realisation.
That leads to Christian worshippers in Israeli settlements who love Jesus together, who stand and sit together, not as Jews and Palestinians but as those sharing the awareness that God loved them first.
Following a religious god leads to religious exclusion — and history is full of its division, inquisitions and persecutions.
Coming to know God in true relationship through trusting in the work of His Son to deliver us from our sin and give us a new start releases God’s values into our human lives.
We become His force for change in a prejudiced, cruel and war-torn world.
In Jesus' words: “Love others as much as you love yourself" (Matthew 22:39). Jesus alone gives us the capacity to do this.