Embracing the Other

Posted by Stanley Wang, Contributing Writer, on Dec 06, 2017

Embracing the Other

Chase Oaks Church has a vision of being a church that embraces the other rather than turning away as we try to reach the 800,000 unchurched in our community. We also believe we are a salad, not a soup.

We are intentionally diverse, believing that the mix of generations, ethnicities, and cultures helps create the rich and surprising unity Jesus prayed for in John 17.

While most of us value diversity, some of us might not know how to embrace diversity. Here is the story of Stanley Wang, a member of the other, and his ideas on how to embrace those who are different from us.

Forming Our Identity

I attended preschool at a small church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where my teachers thought I was deaf. They came to this conclusion because I didn’t respond to them when they spoke to me. I didn’t respond to them because I had no idea what they were saying, not even my name.

Up to that point in my life, the only language I ever knew was Chinese. I wasn’t normalBecause I wasn’t like everyone else, I was the other. Now that I’m an adult, I’m culturally like a Panda Express—I’m not apple pie American (I prefer cherry), and I would never pass for the real deal in China. I’m doubly the other.

On the other side of the other is normal. In China, normal would be an atheist, heterosexual, Mandarin-speaking Han Chinese (the largest of 56 ethnic groups) male. In America, normal would be a Christian, heterosexual, white male.

Creating Labels in Society

Broadly in society, these groups are the standard. You never hear someone referred to as the white CEO or the male CEO, and you certainly don’t hear people talk about straight weddings. Everything that makes you different from those groups makes you the other. Being a part of one of those groups doesn’t make you good or bad. It makes you normal.

If we make it more personal, in each of our lives, we are normal, and we define who is the other. Basically, we navigate relationships through this filter of normal or other. And our tendency is toward our normal and away from the other—in or out. This is “common sense” and natural behavior. I like to hang out with people who are like me and not so much with people who are different from me.

Today’s political and cultural environment exacerbates those differences, pushing people further and further into their corners and into their echo chambers that reinforce what is normal while demonizing the other.

Building Relationships with Others

You might say we live in a free country and we have the right to choose our relationships based on what we want for ourselves. While this is true, and we certainly have the freedom to stick with just the normal, Jesus didn’t.

In fact, throughout His life here on Earth, it seemed that Jesus gravitated toward the other. He ate with tax collectors, He touched the leper, and He made sure the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner were not forgotten. He even goes so far as to say in Matthew 25:40,

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
The most shocking example of embracing the other was God becoming one of us.

Philippians 2:6-8 talks about Jesus,

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Not only does He personally embody His love for the other, He calls us, His Church, to also love one another.  John 13:34-35 says,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The world will know we are Christ-followers by our love for the other. In other words, if the world looks at us and sees people embracing the other, then the world will know the power and beauty of God.

Embracing Diversity

So, what does that mean for us?

We should be welcoming, inviting, and open, but I’m afraid that isn’t enough. We can’t expect the other to enter our world and conform to our idea of normal. In God’s Kingdom, our normal is no better than anyone else’s, so it’s a silly thought to think that others should come to us and be like us. A friend reminded me the other day that, interestingly, the Bible never once talks about America.

Instead of just being open to the other, we need to go to them, be with them, learn from them, and begin to redefine our normal.

For us, the other may be as close as our neighbors, our co-workers, or our classmates. But as the Body of Christ, we are called to reach further. Here’s just a few that come to mind.

People of color, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, poor people, rich people, refugees, undocumented immigrants, liberals, conservatives, Millennials, Baby Boomers, single moms, single dads, Taylor Swift fans, Pink Floyd fans.
How beautiful would our church be if we were a community of others? At Chase Oaks, we say we are a “Come As You Are” community. But we shouldn’t wait for the other to come. We need to go and be in their lives.

This season, we can all take steps toward embracing the other.

For some of us, it’s learning about the struggles of being Black in America. For some of us, it’s learning to see past someone’s gender or sexual orientation to see the person for who they are. For some of us, it’s opening our homes to the refugee. For some of us, it’s standing with our Muslim neighbors against hate. For some of us, it’s having a respectful political conversation.

For all of us, it’s beginning that journey to embrace the other so that we might see the diverse richness of the beauty of God.


Share This:

Recent Stories

Swipe to Discover more

3 Ways To Keep Learning About Black History

Feb 25, 2024

Black History Month celebrates the heritage and achievements of black Americans, past and present. But why and how can we keep learning, once February is over?


Remembering the Dream: Honoring MLK, Jr.

Feb 23, 2024

Several Chase Oakers share their reflections on the impact and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.


Five Things You Can Do For Lent This Year

Feb 11, 2024

What's the history of Lent? How is it observed? It's not just a way to pass time before Easter. It's a great opportunity to take some steps toward personal transformation.


Creative Ways that Everyone Can Celebrate Love

Feb 09, 2024

Valentine’s Day: love it, hate it, skip it? Whatever your view, love is for everyone at any age or life stage. We’ve got some fresh ideas for how everyone can celebrate love this week and beyond.


Where To Celebrate Lunar New Year 2024 in DFW

Feb 05, 2024

Happy Lunar New Year 2024! We've listed just a few of the many places you can celebrate the Year of the Dragon in DFW.


Four Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Black History Month

Jan 30, 2024

Black History Month is a celebration of the lives and achievements of African Americans who have made a difference in our world.


The Local Good Pantry: Nourishing Communities, Creating Hope

Jan 26, 2024

The newly opened Local Good Pantry offers hope to the surrounding community by addressing hunger and food insecurity with dignity.


12 Bible Verses for When You're Feeling Anxious

Jan 21, 2024

Feeling anxious? You're not alone. Be encouraged by these 12 Bible verses and the reassuring perspective they provide.


Finding Freedom and Forgiveness After Abuse: Rowena's Story (Part 2)

Jan 11, 2024

In confronting the cycle of abuse in her life, one woman found hope, healing, and something else: the freeing power of forgiveness.


Finding Freedom and Forgiveness After Abuse: Rowena's Story (Part 1)

Jan 10, 2024

Seeking to end years of domestic abuse, one woman found healing from an unexpected source.