I have walked this earth for more decades than I care to admit, but there is a part of me that never really grew up. My all-time favorite Christmas story continues to be How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I’m not thinking about the poor excuse for a movie that does no justice to the Dr. Seuss book, but rather the short, animated video that was so masterfully produced.
I have many favorite parts in that story, such as Max riding behind the sled he was supposed to be pulling, and little Cindy Lou Who (who was not more than two) stumbling upon the impostor Claus. But the moment that inspires me most is when the Grinch had a “Christmas conversion,” and his heart grew not one, but three sizes.
Too many of us, myself included, have grown up in small worlds and with small hearts. Our thoughts, words, and actions proclaim that we will embrace anyone—who happens to be just like us.
If we are honest with ourselves, we are more grinch-like than we care to admit. How we look with suspicion upon those who are different, and down with judgment upon those whose ideologies stray from our own. And as Christians, we might even champion the idea of missions—as long as “those people” stay “over there.”
I can’t say that my heart has ever been all that large, but sixteen years of college ministry affected me deeply. Day in and day out, I interacted with a diverse array of students. Some came from across town, and others from across the ocean. Some had the light skin representative of my hometown, and others were of varying shades. Some had the typical hair colors to which I was accustomed, and others sported hues of bright pink and neon green.
Through it all, I learned a vital lesson: each person is created in the image of God and is a potential recipient of the grace that flows from Christ’s timeless sacrifice.
Do you know what Jesus hated? It certainly wasn’t people from other cultures or countries. He didn’t even hate sinners. The Son of God lovingly embraced many who were scorned and rejected by the covenant people of God. Jesus hated self-righteousness and hypocrisy.
As Christians, we profess to love others because we know that is what God expects. But if our world is small and our hearts self-righteous, we find convenient excuses to exclude them from the sphere of our concern. Professing love, while looking down our noses with judgement at those who fail to meet our standards, then leads us into the realm of hypocrisy. And though I naturally stray into that territory from time to time, it is certainly not a place where I want to set up camp.
Personal Reflection: What makes me think that my culture is superior to others?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I do not want to be a spiritual grinch. Please enlarge my heart and help me to see and love all peoples as You do.