Have you noticed that you tend to become like the people you hang around?
In college several of us hung out together quite a bit. One of our friends named Larry had a unique laugh. I have no idea how to imitate it in writing but I can tell you this: I noticed that several of us started laughing like Larry.
Even better, I noticed I started being more at ease with people like Larry. I had been fairly shy and quiet in my teen years and it probably showed up when I was with people. Larry just put people at ease. He was about 6’1” and acted like a big brother to everyone. He’d ease up to you and put his arm around you and make you feel like you were the only person he was concerned about at that moment.
It’s good to pick up good things from people. We tend to become like the people we hang around.
That’s why it disturbs me when people who wear the name “Christian” act in unloving ways towards people who are different from them. Just scour the internet and read reactions to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court and you will see how some from the Christian community have talked about people from the LGBT community. (In fairness, some have talked lovingly and graciously too.)
What disturbs me is that people who supposedly have been hanging around Jesus aren’t acting like Jesus. I don’t have all the answers to some of these societal issues but I do know one thing from my time of hanging around Jesus: he loved people. He treated people with respect and dignity and grace and truth. And the only ones he ever treats with contempt are the religious people.
Jesus had a way to draw all sorts of people into his presence. He had a non-threatening presence. Sinners loved to be around him. I know. I’m one of them and I love to be around him.
One of the reasons people loved to be around Jesus is that he listened to them. Deeply listened to them. He understood what they were afraid of. What they hoped for. Where they had been hurt.
And what I’ve noticed is he listened to them long enough that they eventually started listening to him. And when we begin to listen to him he can calm our fears. Realize our hopes. Heal our hurts.
Only then will any of us be transformed into the people Jesus created us to be.
It won’t come by judging. I haven’t met many people who want to hang around people who are constantly judging them.
It will come by loving. I’ve met many people who want to hang around people who are constantly loving them.
Jesus loved. If you want to be a more loving person a good place to start is to hang around Jesus.
Question: Who are you hanging around with? Are they the kind of people you want to be like?