‘I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes.’
Some psychologists maintain that when we meet someone for the first time, we make up our minds about them in less than a minute. The way they dress, speak and conduct themselves all contribute to our first impressions which then have a significant impact on how we see and treat them in the future.
Snap judgements are based on our experiences and our prejudices – the base line usually being our instinctive comparison of others to ourselves.
It’s a common problem and one which Jesus tackles head on in His teaching about the Kingdom of God. Whilst not rejecting the importance of spiritual discernment, He condemns any attitude that puts us in the driving seat - the place where God should really be.
He invites us to embrace the values of the Kingdom – to walk the hard road by being merciful. It means that we don’t assume we know what’s best for others and we treat them like the people they are,
not the issues that seem (in our eyes) to define them.
In the past few months Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly confronted a very personal issue. It appears, on the basis of DNA evidence that the man who he thought was his Father, isn’t. He has dealt with the matter in an open, honest and gracious way - not judging anyone’s character or behaviour, nor pointing the finger of blame. Whatever his family background, his personal identity is, and remains, safe in Christ.
Our inner attitudes, including our perception and view of others, affect our behaviour. If we commit to embracing fully the values of the Kingdom – justice, mercy, love and peace, for example – then our response to others will be very different.
It will also be Christ like - such that we won’t stop to ask the question
'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?'
But, are ready to say …
'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”