Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phil 2:3)
Some are damaged...some are broken. When we refuse to love others, care for other's spiritual well-being simply because they do not fit into our cookie-cutter idea of Christian, we may be turning away some of the most profound and courageous followers, leaders and teachers of the message that Christ brought us - to love one another! Do you fall into that category??? Has that one person who shows up to church on Sunday who seems to be a bit needier than the rest of the "new comers" just rubbed you the wrong way? Is there one person you just can't seem to bring yourself to talk to because once you begin the conversation, they continue to ramble on making no sense at all - they just talk? How about the one who isn't quite appropriately dressed or voices the boisterous laughter that does not fit with the conversation? Guess what? They are all children of God - sons and daughters of the King - they are entitled to the same crown that you are - are you willing to help them achieve it? If not, perhaps you need to reexamine your commitment to our Heavenly Father.
Those who come to us "looking for something better" generally do so because life has inflicted so much pain and torture on them that they are incapable of trusting anyone. They are terrified of the possibility that they will once again be tossed back into the sea of the forgotten. They are lonely and they are hurting. The old saying "never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes" applies here. You do not know what sequence of events has led a person to where they are. You may have never been down their road and, in some cases, I'd suggest you pray to God that you never are.
We stand on our soap boxes demanding a stop to bullying in schools. We also stand there proclaiming an end to racial injustice and prejudice. We protest the removal of God's word in public places. Yet, when we are faced with that one individual - the one who truly wants to know God, serve God and has so much to offer, we size them up, make our own determination as to their appropriateness and turn them away or ignore them simply because they do not meet OUR standards. They meet God's standards - isn't that enough? Take a second look - remember that you will one day stand before the Father and He will remind you. Open your eyes and your heart - give a little more, go the extra mile - offer it up as a sacrifice to the living God who made you if you must - put "Christ" back in "Christian" (not just "Christmas").
If you have not had the opportunity to do so, take it now and watch Casting Crown's music video "Does Anybody Hear Her". There's a powerful message in it - one that goes hand in hand with today's verse. Put your own self-centered attitude on the back burner for one day - reach out to that person that hides in the back of the church or the one who just can't seem to muster the courage to walk through the door. Give of yourself as Christ did - hear what that person is not saying...open your heart!