There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 NLT

At the time Jesus came to earth, people were not believed to have equal value. But Jesus changed things, treating people with equal dignity and worth. Christianity became foundational to the idea of equality.

This piece is a continuation from last Thursday’s post No Lesser, Nor Greater. I’m grateful for Jan, a reader who brought the added aspect of fear to my attention. I very much value the wisdom he shared. Today I have a story to illustrate what I learned:

A woman had a couple of friends who were dear to her. She was under the impression they cared about her as well. She had better talks with these friends than she’d ever had with anyone before—about life, about God. She had much in common with them—spiritually and intellectually. You might say, they were on the same wave length.

But there came a time when neither of these friends wanted any more to do with her. She was puzzled, wondering why.

After some time, she came to realize that it was because she had a mental illness. And, although they might not admit to thinking this way, her “friends” saw themselves as more acceptable people. Perhaps they had come to think that a person with mental illness needed to be kept in a box, at a safe distance. If they continued meaningful discussions with her, it would mean getting close and they feared they might end up identifying too much with her. And so, they shut her out of their lives.

This caused the woman great pain because these friends had been the best she’d ever had.

I’m not saying this kind of situation would happen in all cases. But it’s common.  And it’s sad. That’s the reason I needed to bring it to light.

Last week we talked about how a feeling of superiority was part of the reason for unfair boundaries. But, with the help of Jan, I’ve come to see that fear is at the root.  Perhaps, even if they themselves weren’t aware, these friends were afraid of associating with a “mental case.” Afraid of being seen as her friend.

Have you ever considered what God might think about such exclusion of people from our lives? What might stigma like this do to our relationship with a God who tells us to love others? How would God look upon us when we mistreat people in this way, causing great pain?

I believe God would call it a sin.

After all, we are one in Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters all.