I wonder how much room we have made in our lives to love the fourth group of people. Most of us do a pretty good job loving at least three groups. We love ourselves, we love our families and we love our friends. The fourth group is a bit more difficult to love. They are people who are different than us by religious beliefs, social customs, skin color, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and gender.
For the most part we have formed counter-cultural communities, called churches, and invited those people into our tribes who were willing to act like us, think like us, and behave like us. We do go out from time to time and attempt to reach the lost world, but mostly we are content to retreat to our safe circles and love the three.
To me, this is the very reason we are losing the culture wars and why the church looks more like the world than the world looks like the church. Jesus told us we are salt and light, but also warned us that we could lose our saltiness and we would be tempted to hide our light. I am ready for a salty, radiant tribe of people called New Lifers to go find the fourth group and influence them for Jesus, using words only when necessary. That is the heart and purpose of the new sermon series I am calling “Change the World.”
But no matter how eloquent I am and how often I remind myself and the church that we are to go make disciples, we will never really change our city unless we love those in the fourth group. This is what Jesus modeled to us and this is what made the religious community of his time so furious. The religious community was convinced of their spiritual and moral superiority and had completely rejected the idea of loving anyone who was different. Jesus really loved sinners and spent a lot of time with people who were rejected and despised, even asking some of them to be his disciples and apostles.
I want to look more like Jesus and act less religious. I hope I make some new friends soon and I hope they are different than me. I am going to take the challenge to be salt and light and make room for the fourth group of people. I want to really love those who are different than me and I pray that New Lifers join me on this new journey that could literally change the world.