Loving People who are Different from You

Each week, on my way to the church that I attend, I pass another church of another christian denomination. I hadn’t thought much of this other church until one Sunday, when God decided to teach me a lesson.

The parking lot was full of cars and from the flashing marquee sign out front, I knew that their services had started a half hour earlier. As I was driving past, I suddenly became emotional as I felt an overwhelming love for the people in that building. I knew that the love I was feeling was a sample of the love that God felt for them. In that instance I knew that they were His children just as much as I am, and that he loves them just as much as he loves me. I was overcome by this experience and pulled over to the side of the road to contemplate what had just happened.

My mind flashed back to something my father had said years before, about other religions: “We all need each other. We are so few in numbers compared to the world, that the only way we can really make a difference is if we band together.”

I thought of a chart I had seen once with all of the christian sects listed and with their differences highlighted. This had been my focus in the past: How we were different. But now I thought only of how we were the same. That building back there was full of men and women–my brothers and sisters worshiping God. Yes, they were worshiping differently then my church down the street. But they were praising God and trying to improve their lives, just like I was. And I loved them for that.

I then noticed people walking down the street – obviously not going to any church – and I felt God’s love for them as well. They were God’s children too, and nothing that they did (or didn’t do) would change his love for them. Of course, he would like them to change some things so they could be happier–just like he would like me to change some things so I could be happier.

I then felt equal to everyone around me and I saw great value in each person irregardless of our differences. This feeling extended beyond the people in my immediate view to include everyone that I could imagine in the world.

After a few minutes, I started the car and headed to church–marveling at the lesson I had already learned.

Now, each time I pass a church building – irregardless of the name on the sign – I am reminded of this experience and of God’s unbiased love for all.

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