Jim Denison writes that the political rancor of our day is the most divisive and demeaning he’s ever seen. And it seems to be getting worse. As the animosity of our culture escalates, the opportunity for Christians to demonstrate forgiving grace becomes even more compelling.
But responding to hatred with kindness requires a level of humility that cares more about what the other person needs than what I want. This is a depth of humility many of us find challenging.
Humility means I do not think too highly of myself or too lowly of others. But humility also does not mean the opposite—that I think too lowly of myself or too highly of others.
If we know that our Father loves us as much as he loves his Son (John 17:23, 26), we know that we are secure in the hand of his unconditional grace (John 10:29). We then discover that it is impossible for us to value ourselves or others more than he does. We are free to love other people without requiring that they love us. They don't have to meet our expectations or earn our grace. And we are free to love ourselves in the same way.
Never believe that you earned God's gifts (by definition, gifts cannot be earned, only received). And never believe that his gifts make you more valuable than anyone else. The God who loves you loves them just as much. This understanding of humility enables us to respond to hatred and sin with love and grace. It empowers us to shine the light of compassion into a culture dominated by bitterness. It offers others what their souls long for—someone who will love them as they are.
Won't You Be My Neighbor? is the surprise hit of the summer box office. This documentary on the life of Fred Rogers is captivating millions. Variety says that it turns the Presbyterian minister "into a rock star for our time."
In his 1995 book, You Are Special: Words of Wisdom for All Ages from a Beloved Neighbor, Fred Rogers observed: "When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong along with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way."