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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Jackson

People first.

A little holiday soap box:

Choose people first.

People over positions.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to different alignments or positions that has changed the culture of our world over the last few years. There has always been choice, but the pressure to properly align with a position in all areas of tension has created a new dynamic. Where do you fall? Vaccinated? No? Masked? No mask? Pro-choice? Life? Republican? Liberal? Christian? Supporter of racial reconciliation? Gender equality? Equality for immigrants? Border control? The list is endless and ever changing. Not only are the positions changing but the pressure in each area to stand your position and speak eloquently in support or against has been staggering.

Yes, I have opinions. No, I am not read up enough to know with confidence the “correct” answer to most questions and would fail in any debate over a current hot topic.

But I know with confidence the only thing that does not change for me is choosing people over positions. I believe that having personal dialogue, hearing someone’s story and allowing them space to process is the only way to ever find common ground. I want to choose people over positions. I feel God called us specifically and literally to love others. I want there to be space in my life for me to not just allow conversation, but invite and create opportunity to share dialogue with people who hold different positions from me. It isn’t a challenge for only one side of any position – it is a challenge for all of humanity to lead with humility and choose people first.

People over praise.

The Bible talks a lot about not completing acts of service for the praise of man, or promoting oneself when we complete acts of kindness. I have been so convicted of this over the years and though I have failed miserably at times, can I challenge us both – this holiday season, can we choose to serve humbly and anonymously?

The people we are serving are not benefitted from our self-promotion. Our children are not benefitted from self-promotion. The only one who benefits from promotion of deeds is ourselves. God warns us about this damage in Matthew when he says that those who have received the praise of man have already received their reward (Matt. 6:2). I think when Jesus says, “do not announce it with trumpets” He is referencing all of social media – just a thought. I learned this lesson through some incredible pain during our season as foster parents. The children in our home did not ask for their lives to end up in shambles, so promotion of my deed in caring for them was completely unfair and inhumane. The same is true when we choose to promote others' misfortunes for our benefit of feeling good about our service.

People over preferences.

When you come to my house to discuss politics, religion, sexuality or whatever else topic you are highly passionate about I promise we can sit inside or outside, drink coffee or tea, a beer or some wine and I’m happy to serve pizza or salad or even figure out a vegan meal – honestly, and here is why – I think you are worth it. I think your heart, your story, your challenges and your struggles are more important than what I prefer. But it has not always been that way.

Growing up in the Christian church I truly believed that I had a handle on “right” preferences. How arrogant. But truly, I believed that, and I’m so sorry when you encounter other Christ followers who make you believe the same.

When you are at my home, my hearts’ desire will be that you encounter God’s love, but it won’t be because I make you answer questions that make you feel uncomfortable. My hope is that you feel heard, valued and loved and you experience peace and joy, not because of anything I did, but because I was able to choose you over myself for the time we share together.

At times I think people who love Jesus forget that God is not threatened by other people’s preferences or positions. He just asks us to love them well and remind them over and over that God loves them too. If I believe He is Sovereign and Holy, surely He can handle the details of divinity without my interference.

Just choose people first.

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