I invite you to enjoy one of my favourite stories, “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-QevAGsl6A.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2nd, 1904 to September 24th, 1991) was an American writer and cartoonist best known for his classic children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss wrote Sneetches in 1961 to teach children about discrimination and to address how different groups of people showed dislike toward one another during World War II. A number of the Seuss books address the subject of diversity, teaching children to be fair and to treat people equally (Source: www.csun.edu/~sm60012/GRCS-Files/Final%20Projects/The%20Sneetches.htm).
Dr. Seuss demonstrated a profound understanding of human nature. Did you know there have been “Sneetches” in the church for 2,000 years?
The Apostle Paul writes to Sneetches in Romans 15:1-7. Let’s focus on verse 7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” —NIV
Open the Door for Others
Paul was writing this letter to the church in Rome when he was in Corinth. He had not yet visited the church in Rome, but his relationship with the people there was certainly growing. He was informed by others of issues that threatened the church’s future. The Jewish flavour was strong, but most of the Roman church were Gentiles and the two groups were struggling to get along. Much like the “Sneetches”, they had fallen into a “we–they” dispute.
Prejudice is far too common in our society. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to put a stop to it! Consider the definition of prejudice: “An opinion, favourable or unfavourable (more often the latter), formed without fair examination of facts.” To be prejudiced toward others is to “prejudge” them. This has got to stop!
How would you like me to look at you, lump you into some general grouping and treat you according to my assumptions before I even knew you? We cannot be selective in who we accept. God calls us to open the door for whosoever will come through it—regardless of their skin colour, attractiveness, social status, gender or age.
There is one door to our Heavenly Father. As His representatives on earth we are entrusted with the ability to open and close this door to others. Our Father’s eyes are fixed on the door, calling people to walk through and watching their response to His invitation.
Are there attitudes in you that would prevent others from coming through the door into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you reaching out to those who are not yet in God’s house?
Remember Who Opened the Door for You
We need to remember we were once on the outside looking into God’s kingdom until Christ took us into the glory, dignity and honour of God. Both the Jew and the Gentile must come through the same door marked Jesus Christ. Do not ever forget where you came from. Keeping this memory in the forefront of your mind will help you warmly welcome others into the church. We can so easily become self-righteous and arrogant when we forget what we were without Christ.
Jesus intentionally made a Samaritan the hero in several of His parables. He knew this would offend prejudiced Jews that looked down their noses at this ethnic group.
Some of us are blessed with a solid godly heritage. We are second, third and fourth generation believers with high values and strong morals. The danger in this is that we can so easily forget where we would be without Jesus Christ. We lose sight of the door that we and our parents and grandparents had to walk through to enjoy all the benefits of a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I am certainly not saying that we are perfect. However, Christ-followers tend to settle into lifestyles that separate us from the sin and struggles of those who don’t know Jesus. As a result, we lose touch with the very people we are called to reach. We become insulated from the poverty, crime and addictions that affect our own community.
Pause and reflect on where you might be without Jesus Christ. Remember how He came to earth as a human being so you could follow Him through the open door into the kingdom of heaven. Do not ever lose sight of His mercy and grace in your life! This will help keep your relationship with Him fresh. It will also help you reach out to others more effectively.
Practicing the art of acceptance will certainly help in our homes. Someone has wisely advised, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage—and half-shut afterward.”
When you and I stay close to the door we will more readily accept one another. We won’t be shocked by someone’s hot temper or bad habits. We won’t be so repulsed by others’ lack of personal hygiene or manners. We will enjoy a spirit of unity and bring praise to our God by it.
Dare to get involved in the lives of people that don’t look, smell, sound or eat like you. Look past the colour of their skin into their hearts.
Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.