How To Treat People You Just Don't Like
Learning how to engage people we don't like who root for the other team.
We naturally gravitate toward the people we like. And often they look just like us. But how do we engage people who are not like us? Those who irritate us because they are so different in their personal views, or political opinions, or lifestyle choices that we tend to avoid, dismiss, or marginalize them? Most of us have a few of these people in our lives (and sometimes they're in our own families). While it's easy to avoid them what's the right approach for engaging these people in your life?
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Love was more important than political correctness.
Jesus, as God's son, obliterated religious "politically correctness" in his time offending many people including spiritual leaders. He spent time in the company of tax collectors and prostitutes, often avoided by religious leaders. He traveled through Samaria intentionally when devout Jews avoided that region and people group. He was even found talking to a woman, an odd behavior for a religious man, in the region of Samaria which astounded the disciples. In other words, Jesus spent time with the sick, shady, shamed, shunned and treated them each with love and respect aside from contemporary political correct behavior, and as a man, he set a new standard. Love, not to be misunderstood as acceptance, but genuine love.
Jesus was not in the least bit ashamed to be in the company of people different from himself. In fact, I think it is with these people he was most at home. Maybe because he knew that marginalized people would respond to his love and concern because they were left out by others. And many of them did. For Jesus, there was no one different enough for him not to befriend them. But there could be an even more valid reason for his love for people who were "different." I believe he knew something unique and special about every person he ever met.
But what did Jesus know?
Jesus knew that everyone he met had been created in the image of God. His Father was the Creator. And God, when he created mankind dis something extraordinary – he created us in "his image." You and I are image bearers of God even when we misshape that image with our sin. In important ways, we reflect God's design and his likeness to the world - and Jesus saw this in every person he met, even those possessed by sin and thus marginalized by others.
But here's the thing. Everyone we meet, no matter how despicable, irritating, or unworthy we find them is also made in God's image. Believer or not. Republican or Democrat. Gay or straight. Vikings, Bears, and even Packers fan, yes especially Packers fans are due our respect. We don't need to agree with them about everything or agree with their lifestyle or views but we do need to treat them as Jesus would – as made in God's image and therefore with dignity and respect.
So the next time you walk past someone or have an encounter with an individual who irritates you, remember: They are made in God's image just as we are and due the respect that Jesus gives them as image bearers no matter how flawed and broken.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.