They described how often people or groups react to certain other people and groups with a ‘yuk response’. A response that expresses disapproval, even disgust at what those people are doing that often comes across as rejection of the people themselves. Even if technically 'correct', the expression can be a serious problem.
It doesn’t just hurt feelings. It can breed resentment, lead to opposing factions and feed into violence and war.
How interesting that one of my readings this morning from Mark 2 features some people (Pharisees) who had a strong ‘yuk response’ to certain other people (tax collectors and ‘sinners’) and criticised someone (Jesus) for befriending them.
With His typical masterful combination of wry wit and spiritual insight Jesus commented, ‘It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.’
If we imagine we’re 100% righteous we’re kidding ourselves. Just read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Truth? – we all need to humble ourselves to change, ‘repent’ and seek forgiveness for hundreds, maybe thousands of messy things we’d rather forget.
But maybe it’s easier to deflect attention away from our own faults and point the Pharisaical finger of condemnation at someone else. Look at those people – yuk!
They may be proudly gay or racist, confidently religious or atheist, on benefits or billionaires, long hair/bright coloured hair/no hair, with or without tattoos and body piercings. There may be all kinds of things we find objectionable in what they say and do but they are first and foremost human beings with sacred value and therefore worthy of respect.
Perhaps if we’re willing to risk friendship like Jesus did, we could talk helpfully with each other about some of these things. Admittedly this is difficult. It’s much easier to go no further than that first reaction. This is where I’m blown away yet again by my Master.
I’m so grateful He didn’t look at me and just go ‘Yuk!’ He could have, there was plenty of reason.
Instead Jesus looked at me as He does at all people, with compassion. As wilfully lost but precious enough to seek and find. As fatally sick with self-obsession but worth rescuing and healing, even should it take a lifetime, even should it cost Him His life! As guilty, but desperately in need of forgiveness and love.
So I will continue to trust and follow Him, even if I’m clumsy in practice or lack courage. It’s a challenge but I’m still learning and He is patient.
I will follow Him. Not because I think I’m righteous.
Because I’m grateful.