“People are prone to pecking orders. We love the high horse. . . . The affluent over the destitute. The educated over the dropout.”- Max Lucado
In Chapter 14 (“Stable the High Horse”) of Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado tells the story of Father Damien. Father Damien came to the island of Molokai in 1873 to minister to the lepers quarantined on a triangular thrust of land called Kalaupapa. While others stayed as far away as possible, Father Damien immersed himself in the lepers’ world. Most noteworthy, he referred to his congregation as “we lepers.”
However, at some point Father Damien contracted leprosy. He died on April 15, 1889, four days before Good Friday. Although such settlements don’t exist today, Max asks if we’ve done away with the attitude. In other words, do we still see some people as inferior to others?
An impassable gulf existed between Jews and Gentiles in the days of the early church. For example, Max states:
- a Jew could not drink milk drawn by Gentiles or eat their food
- Jews weren’t allowed to help a Gentile mother in her hour of need
- Jewish physicians didn’t attend to non-Jewish patients
Since Jew believed Gentiles were unclean, they had nothing to do with them. Unless, Max observes, that Jewish person was Jesus. For example, Jesus healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-280. Jesus made His position clear. He cared more about bringing everyone in than shutting specific people out.
In addition, Peter felt this tension to keep his distance or build bridges. But an encounter with Cornelius forced his hand. Because Cornelius had two strikes against him: (1) officer in the Roman army and (2) Gentile. Yet, Pastor Lucado exhorts, take a closer look at Cornelius. Because he helped needy people. And, he was kind and decent.
At the end, Peter confessed the difficulty of his decision. He told Cornelius, “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean (Acts 10:28).”
Today’s question: Do you see yourself as prone to pecking orders? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Categorizing others creates a distance”