All people are the same.

All people are different.

How can this be?

In my experiences throughout this thirty-nine year old life, I have learned many things about people, and I know I have much, much more to learn still. Here is what I know:

1. All people who are in their right mind (please don't ask me to explain what "in their right mind is"; I just hope there is a commonality we can begin from) tend to shy away from pain.
2. All people feel anguish or hurt in the same situations. Some will openly admit their pain, while others (especially men) will put up a brave front. But the common ground is that what hurts you will also hurt me. I know this simplifies things, but for the sake of discussion, let's leave it simple.
3. All people carry on internal "conversations". In other words, no, you aren't the only one who is crazy enough to talk to yourself inside of your own mind.
4. All people struggle with seeing their "neighbor" as a real person. This is not to say we ignore their humanity. We simply fail to cross the divide between the two of us, because we live out only one perspective; our own.
5. All people crave true love (not romantic love). True love is the type that not only loves its neighbor, but likes them as well; is willing to accept any fault and forgive any wrong, rejoices with triumphs and collaborates with calamity, and hopes to receive the same from someone...anyone.
6. All people feel lonely at times; some feel lonely all of the time.
7. Despite what Freud says, sex is not the driving factor in a person's life. Sex is merely eye candy, surface waves; no deeper than a tumbleweed crossing your path in a high wind. All people crave to be accepted. That is the single most important driving influence in any person's life. We like to be liked. We crave it. We want everyone to see how wonderful we are, even if we can't admit those words out loud.

There is much more, but this list of things I have learned has come at great cost, and through many mistakes in my life. Now, if you look at this list again, can you see why Jesus Christ is so attractive to so many people who hear of his story? Even those who are stuck in Christian legalism believe Jesus has a special soft spot for them inside of his heart. Despite century upon century of manipulation and sheer audacity, the one thing the church has failed to kill is overwhelming ability of Jesus to say in any way, "I truly love you".

I have met many fine people in my life; some of whom were so afraid to do anything wrong that they were living in a kind of daily self-fulfilling prison. Others were so free that you wondered what their secret was. But each person I met who knew Jesus, even the devoutest Lutherans and Catholics, knew they had a friend in Jesus, despite anything and everything they had ever done.

Some have closed their eyes to Jesus, but in the end, they will know he is their friend as well, because the message of His life was not to condemn, but to befriend. "No greater love has man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends". I can't recall the verse number or chapter, and I don't care. Jesus doesn't care either. He just knows that I know I have a friend in Him.

Even the most guilt ridden people I have met held in their hearts this secret place that they share with few others; the place where Jesus lives, and says to them, "Everything is going to be alright. You'll see". It is the place where hope lives, and whether you know Jesus or you don't, he is alive in you, and breathing words of comfort and hope, and of a future that has to be...just HAS to be, better than this.

Sometimes things are so good that you can't imagine things could be better than this. But being alive and free, and under the full knowledge that whereas once you didn't know you had a friend in Jesus, now He has revealed himself to you fully; well friends, life don't get better than that, no matter what happens from here on out.

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