I recently witnessed two separate encounters involving two different individuals. Both have weighed heavy on my heart.
Both individuals are Christian but were not members of the respective faith community they were present at. Both individuals were walked by, passed over, and ignored by the others there. Even after I interceded for both of these individuals, the other Christians present continued to act as if the "outsider" did not exist.
A rush of emotions ran through me but the first was the hurt I felt for the two individuals. The second was just as great. It was the hurt I felt from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit placed me in these two situations to show me that all who have faith in Jesus Christ are a beloved Child of God. It doesn't matter to Him what faith community we belong to or what church building we worship Him in. There is truly only one Church—God's Church of which we believers in Jesus Christ are all members. And we are called to love one another.
Some of the greatest displays of faith and love in scripture come from individuals or "outsiders" who were not Israelites. One of my favorite passages features the unnamed Canaanite woman whose faith and boldness opened Jesus's human eyes and heart to the greatness of His divine mission from God, His Father.
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Another favorite is the passage of the Good Samaritan. I love the fact that Jesus uses an "outsider" who is not an Israelite to demonstrate the actions of a true neighbor—one who loves his neighbor as himself.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
They will know we are Christians by our love. And God will know who His children are by our love for each other.