"This man . . . loves our nation and has built our synagogue." - Luke 7:4-5
I'm usually open-minded, but there are times when I find myself stereotyping people to the left and right of me politically, even though I have never met them. When a motorcycle club thunders past me on the road, riding their flame-decaled Harley-Davidsons and flying the national flag, I think I know all about "that type." Or when I read of some people's exotic theories about food, or see people riding expensive bicycles for exercise and wearing neon, skintight clothes, I stereotype them too. I judge that I don't have to meet them.
But people have a way of surprising you. The Roman centurion stationed in Capernaum didn't fit the stereotype the Jews had of the Romans. He loved their nation and had even built a place of worship for them. He was an understanding man, wielding authority compassionately. His servant was sick, and he came to Jesus for healing, believing that Jesus had the power to heal by just saying the word. And the servant was healed!
Next time we find ourselves stereotyping and dismissing others, we should recognize that it's important to take the time to meet and get to know them. After all, Jesus commands us to love all his creatures. Even if they fit your stereotypes, don't let that keep you from relating to them. Remember, Jesus loves us all, and we are to follow his example.