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What comes to mind when you think of outcasts? The book and movie with Tom Cruise? Me too (awesome book and movie), but what other images or thoughts come to mind?

Homeless? Gay? Gambler? Stripper? Addict? Convict? Disabled?

What about single? Childless? Lonely? Divorced? Gifted? Jesus Freak? Artsy?

Most of us probably think of the people in the first list as society’s outcasts. How often do we cast out those in the second list?

Singles endure the constant pressure to find their soulmate. After all, this is when our society tells us life truly begins. Even if we never say it, we convey society’s message by setting them up, bringing up the topic often, and pointing out how great it is to be married. It is great to be married, but why can’t we let singles enjoy this stage in their lives? Instead of isolating them, let’s try appreciating and loving them right where they are.

Childless couples get cast into the “others” pile, too. If you don’t have kids by a certain age, why? Do you even want kids? Is it because you just can’t have them? The message we often get is, “Kids are the greatest thing that will ever happen to you and the only way to have a fulfilling life.” Having kids seems to have become an idol for some. It is definitely an important and great stage of life, but again, what’s wrong with couples enjoying their time together before kids? Good parenting follows a strong, secure marriage. Lets give childless couples a chance to breathe. The days of no babysitter and Friday night plans will not last forever.

All of us have been some kind of outcast. Instead of sticking our noses up when things are good for us, lets check on our single friends when they are sick. Let’s have that lonely neighbor or co-worker over for dinner. Let’s forgive the overly religious and show them a little grace.

Jesus is all about the underdog, the outcast. He spent time with people His early followers despised. In fact, many of these outcasts became His closest friends and followers.

What will it take for us to do the same? Let’s set aside preconceived notions and just go for it.