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Humility: Can we hang with the names on Jesus’ buddy list?

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Many of us are on social media. Who are the people on your “friends list?” We often surround ourselves with people like us — people of our own age, race, class or opinions. Even in the larger culture, we are ridiculously divided. We have become the Fox Nation vs. the CNN Nation (or the Comedy Central Nation), and we disbelieve and distrust each other.  
When we are exposed only to people who share our opinions, then our opinions seem to be self-evident truth, and anyone who disagrees is obviously stupid or out for their own advantage. This is not just problematic; it’s dangerous. Turn on the news to see what happens when political parties refuse the smallest compromise; when people of one group (race, class, whatever) have no concept of the reality another group lives with. See what happens when Us vs. Them is our way of seeing the world.
When I look at the names on Jesus’ “buddy list,” I notice that it includes all kinds of different people. The 12 apostles included a tax collector and a Zealot; that would be like having Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz on the same team. Jesus never “unfriended” anyone.  Instead, he said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus calls us to humility.
Humility does not mean thinking of yourself as worthless; instead, it means thinking of yourself as God’s beloved son or daughter — and thinking of every other human being the same way. Humility is especially hard when we are upholding not our own perfection but our important beliefs. There, we think it’s shameful to compromise. God does call us to faith and to self-sacrifice. However, when we start thinking our belief is The One Right Way, we are asking for disaster, because we can justify almost any bad behavior in defense of a righteous cause. People are free to do things with which I passionately disagree. I am free to disagree with them, publicly. The way I walk that line is that I don’t seek power over other people that I don’t want them to have over me.     
Humility doesn’t mean there is no such thing as right and wrong. It means we insist on the value of all human beings, especially those with whom we disagree or those the world does not value, because we are all precious. It means we take seriously the possibility that we might need to adjust our views, because we are all screw-ups. It means we love our neighbors as ourselves. We try so hard to weasel out of that one by limiting who is our neighbor. Jesus doesn’t let us get away with that. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), Jesus cast the neighbor as a member of a group his own people despised. Who would the Good Samaritan be for you?
Have you ever “unfriended” someone because of a disagreement? Could you try to restore that relationship? Even if that’s not possible or wise, could you show some kind of acknowledgement for that person? Have you ever found a friend with whom you had surprisingly little in common? What’s most important to share? Can you reach out to someone different from you with whom you share this most important thing, and maybe make a new friend?
This was the topic for our second class on “Being Disciples of Jesus in a Dot-Com World,” sponsored by United Presbyterian, and held in the library’s large meeting room on Thursday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Next week’s topic will be, “What Would Jesus Drive?  Gratitude in an All-You-Can-Eat World.” Please join us!
Editor’s note: Rev. Carrie Mook Bridgman is the pastor of the United Presbyterian Church of Lebanon.