Quite a few years ago, I had a problem with "naming" everything. At the place I was in spiritually, I just thought that some things didn't need so much publicity. I didn't know it then, but I needed to be challenged with the -isms of the world; to have them brought to the forefront of my mind and world in order to absorb what they had to teach me.
Here are a few examples of words that I had heard, but was sure that I didn't participate in: ableism, racism, sexism, genderism, exclusivism, classism, ageism. As I began to allow the Spirit to challenge my understanding of these (and other) --isms, I began to notice intently when a thought or spoken word would leave my brain or lips that put me right in the middle of the harm done. While I may not have spoken these words to anyone else, I was still participating in the harm!
Recently, in the news, a candidate in a political race had a stroke. When he got up to debate the opposing party candidate, his speech was halted and he had to search for words. What made the news was that his party was unsure if he could do the job if elected. That my friends, is only one example of ableism. Would we rather have an able-bodied/minded person in office? What does that even mean? Are we going to throw out every person with age related memory problems? Will we cut out people in wheelchairs or those who use a cane? Or how about those with speech impediments?
You see, once we start to PREFER one person over another because of how they speak or look, or how they get around, or who they are in relationships with, etc., then we are way into the harm filled -isms. It is important for our spiritual growth to recognize this. Jesus was judged by those not like him; after all he was just a carpenter's son from Nazareth. He hung out with the less than desirable (by worldly standards). He had relationships with women who were deemed unclean. He even took care of people on the Sabbath day! Oh my!
Jesus would have probably been someone that might not have made it into many churches today. So if we say that we are followers of Jesus, then it is important to grow in grace and love for all people. It is important to be in relationship with the least, the last, the lost. It is important to lead others to know the "outcast" Jesus and how much he loved others - including me!
Dear God, help me to recognize the times that I fall into excluding people rather than including them in your Kin-dom. Enable me to love others because you first loved them and me. Help me to love unconditionally and leave the rest up to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.