I’m always shocked how quickly and completely people pre-judge me simply because I profess my belief and faith in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. After they know that about me, it’s like they deem me unworthy of getting to know. Suddenly, I have no opinions other than what’s popularly known, assumed or guessimated about the Bible. I have no sense of humor. I have no aspirations other than the second coming of the Lord. I’m one-dimensional. I’m unfair. A religious nut. A fanatic. A homophobe. Perhaps a racist or classist. Certainly superior. Irrational. Unintelligent. Unable to think for myself. A know-it-all with a straight line to God. Misguided. Simple-minded. A target. Object of pity. Innocent. Naïve. Someone to take advantage of because forgiveness is a way of life. A non-sinner. Incapable of understanding struggle. Unacquainted with sin or sinful thoughts. A paragon at avoiding temptation. Self-righteous and overly ripe. I’m sure the list of assumptions and judgments continue endlessly, but these are some I’ve been confronted with.
Recently, I had a Facebook exchange with someone who just assumed I was in opposition to something that she supported simply because of my “religion”. This was our first exchange on the topic and her only comment to me about it. The first time I met her is the last time I saw her, about five years ago at an event. In the same comment she mentioned an appreciation of our “friendship”.
That’s the second thing that hit me after being pre-judged based on my faith life: What friendship? Friends communicate with one another. They take the time to get to know each other. Friendships are long-term relationships that grow DESPITE what we learn about the other person. A friend doesn’t learn one thing about their “friend” and stop learning. Stop speaking. Stop sharing. Stop growing and exploring the relationship. In other words, friendships are not based on pre-judgments. Friendships are based on openness and a willingness to get to know another person and accept them as they are. To share that person’s present reality and perhaps aid them in their future dreams. Friendships deepen with each new character aspect we learn about the other person and through each trial and challenge that is overcome together in the relationship.
Don’t claim to be my friend if you can’t even accept or respect me as a faith-filled person.