I got the part; now I needed the costume. At age eleven, I tried out for the role of mascot for my school. The judges picked me, and I prepared to entertain the crowd at football games alongside the cheerleaders. The school didn’t provide a uniform, so my mom sewed me an outfit for my role as The Panther.
At games, I would twirl my black cat tail and encourage the audience to roar for the football players. I would jump around, turn cartwheels, and cheer. I also got made fun of—a lot. Football players snickered, made meowing noises, and some guys called me “rat.” Only these weren’t members of the opposing team or students from the rival school. The ones laughing at me were kids from my own school. I expected teasing or trash talk from the competition, but to hear this from my own team surprised me. Honestly, it brought me to tears. I had thought we were all in this together.
Sadly, Christians often treat each other this way too. When we enter a relationship with God by trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and new life, we join His family—one family of God, one body of Christ with one Father and one Lord. As believers in Jesus, we are to be unified in Him. When we live with love for one another, people can see that we belong to God (John 13:35). But when we hurl insults at each other, attacking each other hatefully instead of disagreeing with love and respect, it’s like we’re shooting down our own teammates.
Apart from God, we aren’t capable of loving each other. But once we belong to God, His Holy Spirit transforms us to become more and more like Jesus, our loving Savior. In His power, we can make every effort to keep loving each other as brothers and sisters. • Allison Wilson Lee
• Have you been mistreated by peers or others? Who is a trusted adult you can tell right away?
• How can Christians disagree with each other and still show unity, even when it comes to divisive topics, such as politics? Have you seen any Christians model this well?
• We are all guilty of acting in unloving ways toward our fellow human beings. God sees our sin, and He calls us to repent—to confess our sin, turn away from it, and turn toward Him. Consider taking a moment to repent of any sins that come to mind, thanking God for His sure forgiveness through Jesus. You can also ask Him to help you move forward in love, maybe by apologizing to the people you’ve wronged. Because He loves you, you can love others (1 John 4:19).
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:1 (NIV)