February 09, 2017
Jodi Picoult’s novel, Small Great Things, is about race. Picoult confesses, “I didn’t write this novel because I thought it would be fun or easy. I wrote it because I believed it was the right thing to do, and because the things that make us most uncomfortable are the things that teach us what we all need to know.”
This novel does make one uncomfortable. It forces us to look deep within us to discover what we didn’t know was there, or what we didn’t want to admit was there.
At one point, one of the characters is reflecting on what he tells audiences who listen to his speeches on love. “I tell them that there is nothing more selfish than trying to change someone’s mind because they don’t think like you. Just because something is different does not mean it should not be respected.” In today’s cultural climate we should all be required to memorize those two sentences. The implications of those two sentences can certainly make us uncomfortable.
Democrats would have to respect Republicans and vice versa.
Conservatives would have to respect Liberals and vice versa.
Urban dwellers would have to respect suburbanites and vice versa.
Non-racists would have to respect racists and vice versa.
The rich would have to respect the poor and vice versa.
People who prefer one style of worship would have to respect those who prefer another style and vice versa.
People who believe that offices in the church should be open to women would need to respect those who feel the opposite and vice versa.
Calvin graduates would have to respect Hope grads and vice versa! Well, let’s not get carried away.
It is ironic that Jesus had his fiercest conflicts with religious leaders. He argued with them, pointed out the error of their ways, and chastised them for distorting God’s word. He also had dinner with them!
Jesus didn’t like it when people commit adultery, but he loved an adulterer anyway.
Jesus didn’t like the behavior of crooked tax collectors, but he loved them.
Jesus didn’t like Saul’s persecution of Christians, but he loved Paul enough to encourage his transformation into the greatest evangelist in the history of Christianity.
One of the most difficult things Jesus asks his followers to do is to disagree with someone’s behavior, attitudes, perspectives or words, and to love them anyway.
People are transformed through acceptance and love.
“...the things that make us most uncomfortable are the things that teach us what we all need to know.”