Why are we attracted to certain people and not others? Why do our friends tend to be very similar to each other? And what causes us to decide on someone as a friend? Many of these questions relate to the social psychology theory of attraction which states:
- People tend to pick partners who are similar to themselves in characteristics such as age, race, religion, physical attributes, social class, personality, education, intelligence, and attitude.
The more similar that people are in the characteristics listed above the greater the attraction towards another person. The more similar two people are the greater the chances that a relationship or friendship (platonic or romantic) will develop! Take a few moments to consider your spouse and your closest friends and you’ll most likely conclude that you are attracted to them (for the most part) because they are a lot like you!
What I admire about Jesus is that He taught and modeled loving those who were “unattractive” by society’s standard:
- “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? ” (John 4:9b)
Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well tells us many things about His character. It also shows us where He places value…or maybe more accurately… where He doesn’t place value. Jesus saw past the woman’s social status. He saw how desperately she needed the living water that only He could offer, and He didn’t hesitate to offer it.
There is another Jesus encounter in the Bible. One about a wee little man named Zacchaeus. He was a very rich tax collector who became very wealthy by overcharging the people in his town. Needless to say, Zacchaeus wasn’t liked by many. Yet, to the dismay of the crowd, Jesus honored him by going to his house and eating with him. Jesus saw Zacchaeus as somebody with an empty hole that only He could fill, and through His kindness Zacchaeus was transformed.” Jesus saw in Zacchaeus what He saw in each of us, someone that needed His Love, Grace, and Mercy.
When our hearts are focused on following Jesus and loving those who are unlike ourselves we will show the world the kaleidoscope of love that God intended when diverse people—with and without disabilities–learn to walk, work, and worship God together in the local church.
It is easy to love those we like. As a matter of fact, it hardly takes any work at all to be kind to those that we have befriended. But, how do we open our hearts and love the “unattractive?” I encourage you today, to ask God to see others through His eyes, love them the way that He loves you, for “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV)
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