"But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you."
In high school, people would often confuse me for my little brother and vice versa. It’s an honest mistake because he and I were only one year apart in age, similar in size, and we even shared clothes sometimes. Usually if one of my brother’s friends would approach me and call me by his name, they’d realize almost immediately that they made a mixup, apologize, then move on.
However, on one occasion in high school, a girl in his grade ran up to me excitedly, grabbed my arm, and started rambling on about a mutual friend of hers and my little brother. She was talking so fast and so loud that I wasn’t even able to interrupt her to tell her I’m not my brother. After what felt like five straight minutes, I nearly yelled at her, “I don’t know you!” There was an awkward pause of the two of us looking into each others’ eyes. She became flushed with embarrassment, then replied, “Oh my God! I thought you were your brother! I’m so sorry!” She ran off sheepishly and I walked away slightly vexed.
It’s strange when someone you don’t know acts like they know you. As much as you want to be kind or welcoming, it doesn’t change the fact that no relationship exists. Even for me as a pastor, I want to be all things for all people; but this is impossible. Perhaps this is why God commands us to “love our neighbors,” rather than “love everyone,” because we are expected to simply love the people we know or those who are near. Practically speaking, if we are called to love everyone, we wouldn’t do a great job of it. By attempting to love everyone, we actually don’t love anyone well. Paradoxically, by denying love to some we are being more loving to our neighbors.
Art: Dea Jenkins | Synergy | watercolor | 2020