Nowadays, it seems that people are particularly
self-conscious. What others think of us
often matters more to us than what we
think of ourselves or what we know to
be true about ourselves. Personally, I'm
a firm believer in doing whatever seems
right to do, despite the misgivings of
others. No one's opinion about you should
matter, except your own and God's. Why
act on anyone else's incentives, since
they can't really satisfy you in the end?
Jesus amazed the observing crowds by
making physical contact with multiple
so-called "impure" people. He
showed that "devils" and "evil
spirits" aren't passed from person
to person through physical contact, as
many believed at the time. Jesus did not
go along with the flow of the current
thought. But even though he proved that
their opinions were false, some people
still maintained their distance from these
people. I don't think it was just fear
of being "possessed by demons"
that motivated these people to keep to
themselves. I also think they feared what
would become of their reputations if they
were seen associating with such lowlifes.
What kind of people do things like that?
In my opinion, they are the lowlifes.
I would like to think that if I were
in their position, I'd go make friends
with some "unclean" person.
I love to be different and embrace others.
If you want to talk to someone, just go.
Disregard the public's opinion or whatever
you may hear involving the matter. Even
though it may take a lot of humility and
courage to go up to different people,
you'll feel better about yourself for
having done it. You won't have to deal
with the guilt you may feel if you give
into others' false assumptions, for which
they have no true evidence.
We're not always dealing with the exact
same things as the people in the Bible,
but there are some similarities. Back
then, lepers, prostitutes, sinners in
general, and women were looked down upon.
The most prominent characteristic I see
in each of these diverse people is simply
that they're different from what was considered
to be an "average" person in
those days. But what is normal? Just because
people are different doesn't mean that
they should be classified as lesser people.
It's not fair or right to put permanent
labels on others. The label may say nothing
about who they truly are, and that has
to be taken into consideration.
Really though, when you scrutinize the
acts for which some of these people are
condemned, they really aren't terribly
worse than the actions of those who condemned
them.1 Even most of the heroes
in the Bible (Jacob, Joseph, Moses) weren't
perfect. That's precisely why it's so
unfair to judge others and brand them
for life, especially if you don't fully
identify with them. You never know --
sometimes you may have more in common
with those "social outcasts"
than you might think. Don't let your friends
get in the way if you do feel the sudden
urge to reach out to someone like that.
If they try to prevent you from doing
so, it kind of makes you wonder if you
really want to be around them.
When you're presented with the choice
of treating others with kindness or condemnation,
remember that being true to yourself,
not to your friends, or even to your enemies,
is the most important thing. Independence
from the image others have of you is one
of the most admirable qualities. And it's
a gift you can give others. If you ever
have doubts, just look at Jesus' example.
Remember that he stunned on-lookers with
his acts of healing by simply touching
those in need. He didn't care about what
everyone else thought about them. And
look what he did for the world!