Updated: Feb 2
Jesus and the Leper
R = Receive – love and accept others for who they are.
E = Equalize – stand beside others as equals. Not above them. Not below them.
S = See – Notice others. Don’t treat others like they’re invisible.
P = Protect – Stick up for others. Never bully another human being.
E = Empathize – Listen to the stories of others. Try to feel what they feel.
C = Compliment – People crave affirmation. Compliment them.
T = Thank – People crave appreciation. Thank them.
The first way you give the unconditional GIFT of respect is by receiving.
Respect is receiving another person just as they are – right now, today.
NOT for what you think they SHOULD BE. But for who they presently ARE. You love and accept others for who they are.
The world you were born into is better at rejecting than receiving.
Most people judge one another through the filter of a dominance hierarchy. They accept or reject people based on race, religion, nationality, wealth, dress, the beauty of one’s face, the shape of one’s body, how smart and articulate one sounds, or by some skill that one can perform with their body.
But I challenge you to be different. Become a unique, healing balm in this world by giving people the unconditional GIFT of respect by RECEIVING them as they are.
Whether they are beautiful to look at, or not.
Whether they have an impressive physique, or not.
Whether they seem intelligent, or not.
Whether they are rich or poor.
Whether they are skilled or unskilled.
Whether they are from another race, religion, or nation, or not.
Whether they are known for being "good" or "bad."
Whether they can do something for you, or not.
Each person you come in contact with is another person you can receive.
Receive them by initiating a kind greeting.
Receive them by warm, receptive body language.
Receive them by making and maintaining adequate eye contact.
Receive them by giving them your unhurried time.
Receive them by giving them your sincere attention and interest.
Receive them by asking them questions about them.
Receive them by finding out what THEY like to talk about, and then talk about it.
Let me clarify something. I’m NOT saying that receiving someone is turning a total blind eye to someone’s undeniably bad behavior and baser character qualities.
But I AM saying that a person doesn’t have to be "perfect" to be received by you. They don't have to have it all together to be loved by you.
They can be who they are today.
And every person you meet is NOT a little project for you to mold into your own image. They have no obligation to wait for your approval of judgment to finally feel at ease around you.
May it be that they can already sense that you've received them just as they are today. You have already accepted them and put them at ease.
Remember, there are two basic types of people.
Those who put you on edge.
And those who put you at ease.
Be the latter. Be the type of person that puts others at ease.
Let me return to balancing the ideal and the real. To be clear, GIVING respect as an unconditional gift is an IDEAL we should strive for.
But let's also face REALITY.
This whole world functions by a dominance hierarchy - by human power rankings. It's a dog eat dog world. And respect is something that you're going to need to EARN from other human beings.
Do not expect any other person on Earth to GIVE you the gift of respect. Very precious few will do this. Almost everybody else will view respect as something that must be EARNED.
Expect that. Roll with that.
In most social situations you will find yourself in, you will have to EARN people's respect through your hard work, your personal character and integrity, your skill and competence, and your kindness and love.
Mark my words. Your first day in any new classroom, on any new job, or in any other setting you find yourself as the newcomer – people are not going to bow down to you on day one. They are not going to give you the unconditional gift of respect. They are not going to see you as being priceless and having infinite value.
In the real world, when you are the newcomer, you will get a price tag slapped on you with $0 on it. And you will have to work your way up from there.
So be it.
But here's where I challenge YOU to be different. People don't have to be perfect to receive respect from you. They don't have to have it all together. You receive them and respect them from the get-go.
Jesus is the obvious example of someone who gave people the unconditional GIFT of respect by means of RECEIVING them.
I have always loved Luke 15:1-2, “Then all the tax collectors and sinners drew near to him [Jesus] to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (The very context and backdrop for the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Prodigal Son stories that Jesus told.)
The religious leaders of Jesus' day absolutely hated the fact that Jesus was eating with sinners and receiving them.
The Pharisees and scribes were the original "virtue signalers." Their attitude was: "Everyone gather around and look at me. Look how good I am. In fact, I'm better than you."
The Pharisees' real motive for creating their "moral" brand - with a halo for a logo - was NOT to better the lives of their fellow man. Their real motive was to be better than their fellow man.
The Pharisees' real motive for their moral showmanship was NOT the liberation of others. It was domination over others.
The Pharisees' real motive for being the winners of their self-designed "good game" was NOT purity before God. It was power over man.
In fact, the purpose for the Pharisees' whole existence was NOT about being good. It was about being God. The self-assumed authority to dominate, control, judge, punish, and destroy other humans with satisfaction.
The Pharisees wanted to perpetually project the spotlight on OTHER people's sins so that it would never shine on their OWN sins.
Which caused the fake "good" of the Pharisees to be nothing more than pure evil.
I'm convinced that we are never more bad than when we try to "out good" someone else. It is remarkable how immoral, corrupt, and rotten we become pretending to be moral.
And we are always exposed as moral frauds when we:
1) only see the moral failures in others, while being blind to our own;
2) instead of being humble, we are arrogant and proud of our self-assigned moral superiority;
3) use "morality" as justification for rejecting others instead of receiving them.
Let's face it. Judging other flawed human beings is a whole lot easier than loving them. Guilt is a whole lot easier than grace. Rejecting people is a whole lot easier than receiving their confusion, brokenness, and imperfection.
Jesus was different. He did what was hard instead of easy. He took the road less traveled.
The Jesus of the Gospels is somebody who received broken, outcast individuals that the vast majority in their society had rejected. Jesus received individuals who were low on the dominance hierarchy.
Rather than avoiding the uncool crowd, these were the people Jesus actually chose to hang out with. People who were seen as poor, unclean, sexually immoral, government workers (tax collectors), cursed with disease, and other outcasts of society.
Jesus loved people. He gave them the gift of respect. He received the imperfect people that the “perfect” people were rejecting.
And not just secret, private acceptance. He openly and publicly received them.
He invited them to eat with him. He warmly talked with them. He touched them. He identified with them. He befriended them even if it meant being sneeringly labeled a "friend of...sinners" (Matthew 11:19).
Jesus loved and received them.
For a modern application, think of a high school cafeteria.
Sometimes one of the most intimidating places in this world can be a school cafeteria. We all want to feel like we can receive our tray of food and then find a table very quickly with receptive people. We hate the thought of sitting alone. We really hate the thought of someone saying "You can't sit here!"
And if they do say this, you can tell by their voice inflections and their facial expressions that they are communicating this larger message,
“Your just not good enough to sit here! We reject you. We don't receive you. You're not cool enough. You're not cute enough. You're not smart enough. You're not enough. We reject YOU.”
However, I'm convinced Jesus did not treat people like this. It seems like Jesus was the type of guy who would have been flagging people down in the cafeteria saying,
“There's a seat right here by me. And I'm actually the most popular kid in school right now. Because all of these masses of people – they’re here to see and listen to me. I'm not avoiding you. I'm seeking you out. To me, you have value. To me, you have worth. I receive you just as you are. Yes, we may talk about some things that will be wiser choices for you to make in life. But I receive you today. Just as you are.”
What would Earth be like if we all lived like that?
I challenge you to be that type of person. The one person in the school, at the workplace, in the social setting who loves, respects, and RECEIVES others as a GIFT.
I know you would want someone else to do that for you.
I encourage you to do that for others.