You might have seen this story on TV, or had it show up in your Twitter or Facebook feed this week. It has gone viral! The story is of 9 year old Kamryn Renfro who was brave enough to shave her own head to support her best friend, 11 year old Delany Clements, who has been battling cancer and has lost her hair during treatment. After shaving her head Kamryn was told she would not be allowed to attend school because of the school’s strict dress code that included a ban on shaved heads. All she wanted to do was show support and compassion to her friend, to love her in a radical and special way, but the school let the rule interfere with that.
The school has since changed that rule and allowed Kamryn to return to school.
Obviously this story sparked a lot of outrage. People became upset that the school would allow a basic rule to come between a girl and her radical support for her best friend that is so bravely battling cancer.
As I was reading this story it had me thinking about how often we do the same thing within our Christian faith. How many times have we as Christians allowed our theology to prevent us from showing compassion toward another human being when they need it most? Sometimes that presents itself as being judgmental toward someone who does not believe, or act, as we do. Sometimes that presents itself as looking down on a fellow believer that is of a different denomination or theological background. However it presents itself, and regardless of our theology, no theology based on Jesus would allow us to be anything BUT compassionate to all people.
There is a misconception within Christianity and popular culture today that tells us that if someone does not believe the same thing we believe we must treat them as enemy combatants. We must remove them from our lives (and if they’re a church leader…their jobs). That simply is not true.
Jesus calls us to love all people…even the ones that have nothing in common with us, believe the exact opposite as us, and even try to harm us. The whole love your enemy thing (see below). It is not our job to strong arm, or argue, someone into believing what we believe, or to admit they are wrong. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of where their (or our) lives don’t line up with the message of the Gospel. It is our job to show people radical compassion and sincere love, regardless of our differences.
How often have you let your beliefs or convictions get in the way of truly caring for another person? I know I am guilty of that! Maybe next time we are presented with the opportunity to divide we will respond like Jesus calls us to in Matthew 5:43-48…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.