I’m excited to share a little excerpt from Eric Bryant’s new book “Not Like Me” with you today. The book is subtitled “A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World”, but the book is really about love… learning to love those around you… particularly those people who aren’t exactly like you.
Here’s one of my favorite sections from the book:
Some of us have overlooked those who are in the grip of poverty. For others of us, we may disregard children, senior citizens, innovators, unreached people groups, the abused, the abusers, the victims, the imprisoned, those with whom we disagree theologically, those who are physically challenged, those who are mentally challenged, and those who are overweight. Some of us may even struggle to embrace others who might be accepted more readily.
When we love those who are overlooked or deemed untouchable by society, we should listen to them so we can learn from them the best ways to serve them, avoiding the temptation to come rushing in as a ‘hero’ or a ‘knight in shining armor.’
Considering our life experiences, passions, personality, and gifts, and God’s leading, we should look beyond those we normally see to discover others we can serve.
As Jesus looked around at the men and women who followed him so that they could mooch a free meal, he described them as valuable and significant, as “salt and light” (see Matthew 5:13-14). Jesus saw the blind, those with leprosy, and the poor and met their needs. Jesus also saw those whose wallets were full but whose hearts were empty. Jesus loved them all. Jesus reached out and touched the untouchables.
That kind of hit home. I overlook a lot of different types of people… and Eric is right… it’s easy to overlook people who are not like me.
I think one of the problems with churches… one of the reasons so many churches are so in-grown is exactly this reason: the look to serve people only like themselves. In fact, most churches have taken it a step further serving ONLY themselves, not even people LIKE themselves.
Churches that are growing; churches that are reaching people are doing so by looking at people who are not being reached.
I think you’ll find that Eric’s book will challenge you as you think about how you (and your church) look at others. Do you really value people like Jesus values people? What can you do differently to change your mindset to be more effective and God-honoring? “Not Like Me” will help you navigate.