This one’s from the vault, y’all! Edited for relevancy and clarity, but every bit as true as when it was published on the old blog back in 2008. It’s speaking to my heart today – and hopefully it speaks to yours, too.
“If you greet only the people you like, are you doing any more than others? The people who do not know God do that much. (Matthew 5:47)”.
Um, WHO FEELS SEEN TODAY?
It’s me. I feel seen and not in the fuzzy feelings way, tbh.
I’ve mentioned my background in faith before, which means that I’ve been around churchspeak my whole life. From sermons to inspirational talks to spiritual growth tracks to self-help books to Bible studies, I’ve heard a whole lot of it. But I can’t remember this verse ever being highlighted, and I can’t help but wonder why.
Straight up, Jesus is telling His followers that they’re no better than publicans, who, if you’re keeping track, were widely known to be involved in extortion and sin.
If you’re only nice to your homies, He says, you’re not doing anything more righteous than an unbeliever.
Maybe this is relevant to you in a church setting; you lock eyes with New Person on Sunday morning and give your best polite/noncommittal smile (no teeth, because that could be interpreted as ‘come say hi’).
New Person is shifting uncomfortably and looking around at people bunched into chit-chatty circles. And I PROMISE you, a billion thoughts are running through her head. ‘Will anyone notice me? Will anyone take the first step? I’m not busting into someone else’s conversation, that would be weird. Will anyone welcome me? Will they immediately forget my name, or will they actually connect with me?
Was coming here a mistake?’
This scenario happens everywhere, y’all. It’s not just church. It’s workplaces. It’s small groups. It’s kids’ karate lessons and baseball games. It’s social outings and backyard BBQs. It’s business lunches and conferences.
Cliques don’t disappear when you become an adult. If anything, they become even trickier to navigate, the dangers to your mental wellbeing even more subtle and insidious.
James 2 exhorts readers to befriend those that wouldn’t typically be seen as ‘worthy’; ‘If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. (James 2:8-9)’
If your goal is to do more and have a community of people who are doing the same thing, then the command is simple. Be a friend to the people outside your ‘circle’. Foster connectedness with people, even if you don’t click with them. Even if they don’t look or act like people you want to be around.
It’s so much more than acquiring a tribe, though. Some of the most mightily anointed vessels in the Bible were ordinary people who were called out of their mediocrity to become a friend of God Himself.
Hey, Abraham, father of the whole chosen nation of Israel; you were “called the Friend of God (James 2:23)”. Hello, Moses, man who defied world powers to lead Israel out of captivity in broad daylight. Jesus talked to you ‘face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Ex. 33:11)”.
Do you want to be His friend, in every sense of the word? Ok, cool. What are you doing ‘any more than others’?