For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become. (Michelle Obama, Becoming , 2018)
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
Do you think people see you as you are? Or do they project their image of who they want you to be on you? Unfortunately, many of us are not seen as we are. As Michelle Obama has so eloquently put it, true mutual understanding starts with self awareness and acceptance. Then, and only then, we can “invite on another in.”
That means we have to have tough conversations with those who are not like us. It means we have to create tables of mutuality. When I speak of mutuality, I in no way am saying that we are all the same. I am saying, however, that we all have a story, and we need to create the space for mutual exchange where we listen to each other, hear each other, and move toward understanding the journey of the other. Paul, in his letter to the Corintians, notes that the purpose of getting on the same page is not selfish or constraining. Rather, progress depends on it. Are you willing to help co-create a table of mutuality that points toward being reconciled to God for the sake of becoming “the righteousness of God?” Test yourself. Trust yourself. But above all, trust God as you become what God desires you to be.