As Christians, we are commanded to be compassionate in the world, yet so many of us find it hard to accept people who are different than we are. There are many Christians who only feel comfortable within Christian culture, and are offended when they encounter the ways of the world. While this logic is common to human behavior in general, it is backwards to God’s sacred commands of how to walk in Christ’s footsteps.
Consider this story about the origins of the title “Christian.” During the first century A.D., after Christ had left his disciples to carry on his work, Christianity spread to the ancient Greek city of Antioch, a major city and trade hub of the time. Up until the time of Christ, it was common practice to essentially throw people in the street if they were mentally or physically ill, lest they affect the rest of their household. Christ was the first one to run to the aid of people who were afflicted with a condition, and his followers brought this philosophy to Antioch. When the Greeks saw Christ’s followers caring for the sick and the hurting, they were so unfamiliar with compassionate behavior that they had to create a term for it, which translates literally into “Christ ones.” This is where the title “Christians” comes from.
Christ showed us that we should be compassionate, not only to fellow Christians, but to a hurting world. God does not request, but commands us to show love to those who are diseased, mentally ill, addicted, homeless, depressed, anxious, disadvantaged and lost. We are not to place judgment on those who are different from us, but rather we are to form relationships, give aid and offer kindness and patience.