I remember as a child, overhearing the adults reciting a saying that I’m sure you’re familiar with.
You catch more flies with honey (than vinegar).
I thought that this concept was universal… that people knew that if they wanted to minister to people they would know to go in with something sweet, comforting, and lovely if they wanted to minister to people and to respond to the gospel commission.
And when Jesus gave the ‘readers digest version’ of the laws he wants us to keep (focusing on the over-acrhing principals of all the other laws) he summed it up like this:
Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Our neighbor was never specified as the one who “believes like us” or “lives exactly the same lifestyle” or “is of the same race” — rather we were given vastly different definitions and examples of who it is we are to love.
Luke 10:29-42New International Version (NIV)
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
How does this relate to the topic? Well, my neighbors tend to be very varied. My neighbors are muslim and LGBTQ, black and yellow, red and white–ALL are precious in God’s sight. And I can love them, as they are. I don’t need to do the sorting only the fishing— only the loving and ministering.
So I go for policies that protect and support my neighbors–even if they are different. No, especially if they are different.
Being harsh, judgmental, or condescending will not win you any flies. Will not catch you any fish. We were called to fish. We’ve been called to love.