I’d like to share this powerful story from author and pastor,
I grew up a pastor's son. My father's church, located next to our home, was often used for meetings of pastors belonging to a certain denomination that was passing through considerable theological controversy. Often I would sneak into the church and listen to these pastors vent their frustrations and plot their strategies for upcoming denominational conferences.
The name of one denominational leader was frequently mentioned, and when his name was spoken, it seemed to me, a small boy, as if the Devil himself was being described. Over time that name became associated with all forms of ecclesiastical evil.
Years passed, and the boy who overheard those passionate, often hateful, exchanges became a man and a pastor. Occasionally memories of those pastoral meetings and the name of the man who was so often vilified would pop up on the screen of my memory. One thing was sure: I had been taught not to like him.
Then one day when I was in my mid-thirties, I was given a powerful lesson…My assistant came to my office door and said, "Gordon, there is a man out here who would like to meet you. His name is _____." I was startled. It was the name I'd heard so often in those meetings when I played the eavesdropper.
"Mr. MacDonald," he said, "I'm from the West Coast, but I'm in Lexington today visiting relatives. For the last few years I've been reading your articles and now your books. I determined that if I ever got back here, I'd try to meet you and tell you how much your writing means to me."
How did this man know that, on that very day, I was going through a mini-crisis of confidence? How could he have intuited that I was an inch away from dropping the writing component out of my life completely?… How odd of God … to send someone I'd been taught not to like to offer this word of courage.
It’s so easy to look on people whom we don’t know as somehow less than a person. The more unlike us they are, the less likely we are to view them with sympathy and kindness. We see them in a one-dimensional way and forget that they are people just like we are.
— — Robert