Ever look at yourself in the mirror and say, "man, I'm starting to look just like my.....". Maybe you have the same eyes as your mom. You have the same jaw line as your granddad. You bear an uncanny resemblance to an aunt or uncle. You have the same hair as your dad. As much as we'd like to believe it, none of us are original or unique. We are all made in the image of someone else. We all came from Adam and Eve so this should not be a surprise, right? Physically speaking, we are all brothers and sisters through the first couple that God made. We all share the same lineage. That is why the scourge of racism is so nasty; you are hating your very own brother or sister, your very own flesh and blood, so in a sense you are hating, destroying yourself.
After the Flood, Noah and his three sons and their wives leave the Ark. Some time passes and the men go separate ways. They spread out across the face of the earth and we find the origins for the countries, the people groups we know today. We see them as different countries, different races with different culture than ours. They are strange to our way of doing things, their different traditions are foreign to us. They eat different foods, they make different music, they enjoy different sports. They don't look like us, they certainly don't talk like us, and they didn't attend my family Christmas party last year. Does that mean we aren't brothers and sisters? No, we most certainly are. Shem, Ham, and Japheth may have formed different families but they all came from the same father. They were united throughout Noah.
I have not always been the best example to my brother. I have failed many times in life. I have said and done things I regret. I never stop going to see my brother though. He doesn't tell me to leave him alone because I'm no longer of any use to him because of my mistakes. No, we still hang out and at least somewhat enjoy each others company...I think. Just kidding. He has a wife, he has a business to run, he has many responsibilities to tend to as do I. We don't see each other as often as I may like, but we are brothers. Nothing can change that. The bond formed from hours of basketball played together, pepperoni pizza shared at 11:00 on a Saturday night, and the wrestling matches in the living room that petrified mom cannot be broken. He's my brother. Through the darkest days of my brothers life, I will be there. Mistakes do not change the love I feel for him. Am I proud of all his boneheaded decisions, of course not. Am I proud of my brother? You better believe it. He is not, nor am I or anyone else for that matter, defined by our mistakes. Through love and encouragement, all of us are capable of rising up from the failure of our past and becoming the person God made us to be.
Now think about that person that doesn't look like you. Think about that person that doesn't believe what you do. Think about the person who hates you. Think about the person you have written off because of their mistakes. Think about the person that just gets under your skin. Think about that lazy bum, the worthless drunk, the trashy hoe, the arrogant jerk, the crook, the cynic, the dealer, the one who hurt you. They are your brother and sister. All made in the image of God. They have been deceived by the enemy just as you were before the Lord set you free by His wonderful grace. They are bound in sin, bound for death. If your brother or sister were in the peril of death, would you not do all you could to rescue them? Why then do we simply stand by and provide commentary as our world runs head long into destruction? Who absolved us from the responsibility of loving the unlovable? Jesus said to turn the other cheek; we shoot until we are out then we reload. I am guilty. I have, like Peter, viewed those who are against me as my enemy, and swung my sword. I, like Peter, have cut off the ear of the one God called me to tell about the Truth of salvation and repentance. I took away their ability to hear Jesus with my judgmental attitude and callous approach to the most delicate work of loving the lost. I have not won a brother, I have solidified an enemy. I am guilty, what about you?
Jesus was ruthlessly and mercilessly beaten and murdered by the hands of the very ones he was born in to this world to save. Remember what He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Wow. He calls on His Father to forgive His brothers. They hated Him, He loved them. They abused Him, He redeemed them. They buried Him, He raised them. Just like Joseph did with his brothers. What do we do today? We hate them, we abuse them, and we bury them because we feel entitled to do so because they did it to us. What has happened to us? We will call on the mercy and grace of God for ourselves and our family and those that look like us, but we could not care less about those outside of our circle. This is not the love of God. This is the love of ourselves. It ought not be so for those who have known the awesome love of God. If Jesus looked upon His brothers and sisters who didn't believe, who were in direct conflict with Him, and were causing His suffering and prayed for God to forgive them then what excuse do we have? Let the past go, let the hurt go. You are the one suffering. They are your brothers and sisters. Yes, what they did was wrong. What you have done is wrong too. Jesus forgave it when you came to Him in repentance and confession. He had already extended forgiveness before you came though. What about you? Do you extend or withhold forgiveness? You don't know what they did to me though? No, I don't. Does it matter though? You have been in prison to the pain long enough. Turn to Christ for strength and let it go. Extend forgiveness whether they ask or not. Stop looking at that person from another country, that person from another town, that person from across the tracks with a look of derision and distrust and start looking at them with the gaze of grace. Do your eyes and actions portray one who has experienced great forgiveness? To whom much is given much is required? God has given you much mercy, we can do no less than show the same to others.
Maybe if we took the time to get to know those unlike us, we may find we are actually identical. We all hurt, we all bleed, we all long for love and family. We will find that they may not know it, but they long to be restored to fellowship with God through Jesus. They just haven't seen Him in His people yet. Be the one who obeys Jesus. Do what He said. Go into all the world. Not on a week long mission trip and then rest in the knowledge you went to the uttermost parts of the earth. No, go into your neighborhood, go into your place of employment, go into the store of gas station and be a blazing beacon of love and forgiveness. We cannot love those on the other side of the world if we cannot love those in our own community. How can we love the one who's religion teaches them to work to annihilate us, when we can't love the one who looked at us the wrong way. We are all the same family. We have all made mistakes. Our brother, Jesus, lived perfect and offered Himself as our ransom for sin. No matter the country, He offers them forgiveness through faith in Him. No matter the mistake, He offers forgiveness through repentance and salvation. Do you look at others and see yourself in them? You should, because we all came from the same Father. We all get back to Him through the same Brother. We are actually all very much the same. If we will love the world around us as Jesus has called us to, we may find ourselves saying, "man, I'm starting to look a lot like Jesus".