People I Don’t Like
But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 1 Corinthians 15:8
Most of us naturally gravitate towards others with whom we have things in common. We make friends most easily with those who are compatible with our own personalities. The opposite is often true as well. We naturally avoid those with whom we don’t share much. It’s not our tendency to leave our comfort zone to spend time with those who look, act, and talk differently than we do. Because it’s natural though, doesn’t mean it’s right.
For me, it’s relatively easy to go to jail or a treatment center to work with a group of addicts. I’m happy to interact in that context. When it comes time however, to host a small group at my home, I’d much rather invite those who attend my gym or my church. I’m naturally introverted, prideful, and judgmental and I find myself just not wanting to get too close to certain people. Again, just because it’s natural, that doesn’t mean it’s right.
In today’s passage, Paul told the Corinthians that he planned to come see them, but that he also needed to stay in Ephesus for a while. He didn’t remain there out his own will, but rather, because God had opened a door for him. Paul didn’t say it was going to be easy or comfortable. In fact, he said that there were many who opposed him. He stayed though, because God put people in front of him who needed to hear the gospel.
It’s not wrong for me to make friends with those whom I have things in common. It is wrong however, when I avoid those who look, act, and talk differently from me. When I separate the world into those I like and those I don’t like, I’m following my prideful, judgmental nature.
Paul’s outlook was radically different. He didn’t follow his own preferences, but rather God’s will. In doing so, he didn’t see people he did or didn’t like. He simply saw those who needed to know God’s love and transforming power.
As followers of Christ, we must strive to see others as he wants us to see them. He loves all and so must we. We don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but instead of dividing the world into those we like and don’t like, we must attempt to simply see those God has put in our path with whom we may share his love and truth.