My friend, Drew, shared on his blog a story about Bishop Desmond Tutu that I had not heard before and I think shares an excellent message.
The African Bishop, Desmond Tutu, was once asked why he became an Anglican rather than joining some other denomination. He replied that in the days of apartheid, when a black person and a white person met while walking on a footpath, the black person was expected to step into the gutter to allow the white person to pass and nod their head as a gesture of respect.
“One day” Tutu says, “when I was just a little boy, my mother and I were walking down the street when a tall white man, dressed in a black suit, came toward us. Before my mother and I could step off the sidewalk, as was expected of us, this man stepped off the sidewalk and, as my mother and I passed, tipped his hat in a gesture of respect to her! I was more than surprised at what had happened and I asked my mother, ‘Why did that white man do that?’ My mother explained, ‘He’s an Anglican priest. He’s a man of God, that’s why he did it.’ When she told me that he was an Anglican priest I decided there and then that I wanted to be an Anglican priest too. And what is more, I wanted to be a man of God.”
All people have worth in God’s eyes regardless of sex, ethnicity, social class and race. That was likely a small gesture on behalf of the Anglican rector, unique during that place and time I’m sure, but it sure made an impact. When we treat those who are different than us with the dignity and respect they deserve simply because they too are made in God’s likeness we take a silent stand.
Those stands never go unnoticed, if not noticed by men they certainly are by God. What way can you demonstrate Christ’s love toward somebody who is different than you? It may mean breaking out of our comfort zone. Let’s remember the price Jesus paid to bring us to reconciliation with not only God, but also fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, (Ephesians 2:11-22). Paul writes about how the ground is level at the foot of the cross.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise, (Galatians 3:27-29, ESV).
May we truly demonstrate to the world that is watching that Christ’s followers are truly one.