“They” are always around. “They” are different. It may be their skin color, their language, their culture, their heritage, or their religion; but “they” are always around us. We have a natural reaction to “them;” we want “them” out of our lives. “They” make us uncomfortable. “They” cause us to change what we want to do. Contrary to what people think, natural is not always the best. The better reaction when “they” come around is to see what we can learn from “them.” Maybe their ways can help us learn to be better people. Maybe, even if we don’t adopt their ways, “they” can help us become more compassionate and gracious.
Haman had a problem with “them.” “They” were the Jews. He didn’t know many Jews, I’m pretty sure. He just knew that one, Mordecai, bugged him by not paying proper homage. Maybe someone told him that “they” were all like that. So Haman decided to go whole hog, if you’ll pardon the expression, and use his influence with King Xerxes to rid the empire of “them:” the Jews. “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.’” (Esther 3:8)
The customs of the Jewish people were different. The one that Haman knew about was that they wouldn’t bow down to someone like him. They didn’t act like he wanted them to do, at least one of them, and for that Haman wanted to destroy that whole ethnic group. That’s the way hate and prejudice works. People from all walks of life will look at others who live differently and find reasons to hate them. Americans do it to non-Americans, or even people of different ethnic groups. Non-Americans do it to Americans. Christians do it to non-Christians. Non-Christians do it to Christians. Sometimes people within a group will do it to others in the group who don’t toe the party line. I can honestly, and with much shame, say that I have treated others wrong, and been treated wrong for these reasons.
We live in a world that has a lot of “them”s. We can sit around and hate “them” and complain about “them” all we want or we can think of “them” like Jesus thought of “them.” Jesus died for “them” when I was a “them.” He paid the penalty for all of our sins on the cross. He adopted me into His family when I turned to Him. Throughout His life Jesus showed love to the “them”s of the world – even making a positive example of one of “them.” The truth is, “them” is us. God offers His grace and forgiveness to all of us. All we need to do is accept that grace. Then, we have the opportunity to learn from “them” and share God’s grace with “them” by loving and accepting “them.” It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be safe. God didn’t call us to a life of ease and safety. God called us to show love and grace to “them” and do it in such a way that “they” become “us.”
Lord, it’s so easy to look at people who are different in this world and turn away. They have different practices, often against Your word; they look different. They don’t act like us. Remind me each day of Your love for people who are different. Remind me that to them, I am different. Let me show them Your love, grace, and forgiveness in my words and my actions.