Dehumanization

I was given the privilege of witnessing something quite awesome this week, a major step that would seem but the most minor from many perspectives, or perhaps a step in the wrong direction for some. Someone with whom I’ve had the opportunity to walk along with in our journey, made a small statement in speaking for a group that doesn’t have the opportunity to speak, in that forum, to those people, for themselves. They didn’t do this because the guilt of “I have to.” They did this because their heart has become so full of love for all of God’s children, that it hurts to remain silent while these others are condemned and shunned.

A group was stating their bias against another group of people. This person, respectfully and meekly asked if that was the best way to view an entire group of people without knowing each individual and their unique circumstances. While this might not seem huge to many, it was a major step in this person’s life. I got to see the fruit of just walking alongside another in Christ.

In the past, this same person would have been in agreement with these Christians. Instead, they stood as a shield of love for a group of human beings that had no voice in that conversation otherwise. While this person was “politely” ridiculed for voicing their thoughts, I was brought to tears in their bold meekness of being guided by the Holy Spirit in their life.

It’s truly beautiful when we start living in the approval Father has already given to us instead of seeking approval from others as to how that relationship should look and unfold.

I’ll admit, I’ve done more than my fair share of dehumanizing others. At one time, it was because those others were the enemy, and I was told I should stand against them, though I knew little to nothing of their personal journey and struggles. On the other hand, when I began to enter into those others’ lives, I began to see the vitriol and hatred of the stances I had supported, and my dehumanization methods turned on those I use to be in league with. This wasn’t necessarily the “right” approach, but it was a process of detoxing I underwent in order for the Holy Spirit to lead me to where I am today. I’m beginning to try to embrace these others again, but it’s difficult to say the least because I won’t conform to their performance metrics. If I don’t conform to their rigid stances, they in turn withhold relationship from me as an attempt to force my compliance—love abuse. The most powerful gift God has given us, we in turn attempt to abuse others with for our own gain or in belief that we have to assume control over another’s salvation. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of leading if we allow him, both in our life and others.

It often saddens me that our relationships have come to such a state. Though, I’m starting to realize that many will only see this if they are willing. Otherwise, I can only step back and allow them to take the journey they are on if they are adamant about placing contractual terms on relationship. It’s a complicated conundrum to say the least.

My point in all of this is that we often dehumanize entire people groups that won’t conform to what we insist they should. We’re adamant that we have the correct formula and bitterly refuse to enter into their lives.

Even if we do enter into their lives to some extend, it is under the agenda of conversion. “We’re going to get them saved,” is a phrase I often hear. What I really get from this, though, is self-righteousness, “We’re right, they’re wrong, and therefore we have to convert them to our ways.” When we approach others in this manner, many can see our motives dripping with agenda. No one wants to be another notch on someone’s belt. In turn, when our methodology is thus, many are repulsed. We then condemn and dehumanize “those evildoers” because they won’t conform to our “gospel.” Subtlety, without realizing it, our approach becomes more about making disciples of our agenda instead of helping others as they become disciples of Jesus.
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7 thoughts on “Dehumanization

  1. John, for many years of my life I didn’t really understand well what it means to be created in the image of God. Since He has shown me more of what it means I no longer look at people groups with disdain as you have described. It is totally wrong to do so and quite unlike Jesus. Great post!!! Thanks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What Levi said!

      And I love the humanity in your own journey:
      “On the other hand, when I began to enter into those others’ lives, I began to see the vitriol and hatred of the stances I had supported, and my dehumanization methods turned on those I use to be in league with. This wasn’t necessarily the “right” approach, but it was a process of detoxing I underwent in order for the Holy Spirit to lead me to where I am today.”

      What a loving self-appraisal – we all ought to do that more to ourselves as well as each other! Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “Love abuse.” What an insightful term. Another term for it is “conditional love.” If we only love if someone stops behavior we disapprove of, or if someone accepts Jesus, we are not following Jesus. Jesus loved us first. And He does not condemn. And we must all continue to write His words as truth; His unconditional love through us is what saves.

    Liked by 1 person

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