By Rev. Kimberly Metelka
Jesus asks us to love one another, yet how can we do that?
How can we do that when we come face to face with those who are different from us and we lack understanding? We at times can be apprehensive of what to expect from “them”.
If we are honest, we are more comfortable when we surround ourselves with similar and like-minded people. We know what to expect – their behaviour matches our own.
Yet in our lifetime we come across people who are different than we are and we are asked to love them. How do we go about that?
I think the first step is to give them the respect that they deserve as a child of God.
What is a definition of respect? “Consideration for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others”. At times this can be difficult to do when people are not living up to “our expectations”, or we don’t understand their lifestyles or the challenges they face.
Jesus never said being his disciple would be easy, but it is worthwhile. It is easy to fall into the beliefs of the world and judge others according to our standards instead of realizing that we are all equal. We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. When we come to Jesus and kneel at the foot of the Cross, there is no difference we are equal in his sight. We are all God’s children.
In Romans 12:2 a NIV says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The first step in changing ourselves I believe is through prayer. Asking the Lord to change our minds and our hearts to see people for who they are and not who we want them to be. To be present, to listen and to learn. That is what Jesus did, he started by listening.
For me it does not matter whether I am sitting with a parishioner in my office or their home or sitting in a drop-in center with someone who is struggling with an addiction – it begins by listening and respecting who they are. And I will admit I don’t always do this well.
To help me to make the needed change – so I can love my brother and/or sister – I crafted the following prayer from the Holy Scriptures and it is found in the book of Ezekiel 36:26: Lord grant me a new heart and put a new spirit within me; remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh.
This August the Justice League which AFP is part of is hosting the Anglican Church of Canada’s Justice Camp which is entitled “Respect Justice Camp” in the Essex Deanery. To collaborate with, to walk with anyone who is different than us begins with educating ourselves and showing respect. Please consider joining us this summer and gain a better understanding of what struggles and celebrations our brothers and sisters face each day.
Rev. Kimberly Metelka is a member of the AFP Huron executive.