Dehumanization is the process of depriving a person or group of positive human qualities.
A new study released by the Public Religion Research Institute this week revealed that fewer and fewer Americans have meaningful relationships with people who look or think differently than themselves. Increasingly we are surrounding ourselves with people like us. People who look and think and believe like us.
The problem with surrounding ourselves with likeminded people is the impact it has on how we view the other. When we don't have a single meaningful relationship with someone not like us we begin to dehumanize the other. And when we dehumanize them, we don't see them as a fellow child of God. We see them as less than.
Peter had this problem too. He surrounded himself with likeminded people and dehumanized those who were different. And then Jesus and Paul entered the picture. They exposed Peter's views and called him to more. They called him to go "beyond us/beyond here" and to love the other.
We are called to go "beyond us/beyond here" for them but also for us. Distance dehumanizes. Closeness breaks down walls and barriers. I see the people of Chicago differently because I spent a week in Chicago. I see Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Mexico different now because of my time with the people there.
We serve a God that, praise God, did not dehumanize us. He came near to us. Instead of seeing us as the other he left heaven and came near. This week, let us begin to move past fear and come near to those who are different than us and find that they have the same Creator as us.