How can I reach out to people I normally avoid?
The major issue is that we avoid people at all.
Jesus ate with tax collectors, accepted water and shared hope with an adulteress among others. He made connections with the shunned and the lowly. How could they ever experience his love if he only spent time with people who were even normal or “acceptable”?
Within each of our own avoidances of people of other countries, other religions, political affiliations, sexualities and even friends, neighbors and people in our own families is actually a possibility for us to actually step out of our selfishness or fears and make a connection. Jesus chose regular guys with various issues to be his 12 disciples. Not all dressed well, or had advanced degrees, and some even smelled pretty darn fishy. As missionary disciples, we are called to reach out to those in need….even people we don’t get along with, don’t respect or don’t care for. Everyone is struggling with something. Think of someone you are avoiding. Ask Jesus to help you overcome any fear or bitterness and show you how to connect. A card of apology, a phone call, a warm smile to a sranger or co worker can be a first step. We are called to be missionary disciples and to love as Jesus loves us. Our love can grow from the seeds of small gestures in faith as we work to accompany others on the journey. Who among us is really “worthy” on our own merits?