Many divide people into 2 groups: old-young, smart-stupid, lazy-motivated, and more. Kind of like the above quote, which I have no clue what he means. While sounding profound, these distinctions typically provide a simplistic view of life and humanity. BUT, God himself places people in numerical categories, so let's explore that just a bit.
First, sometimes God sees us all in one group, like Jesus' statement, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). That's a pretty high level of love, to give a son. And all receive God's love: the world means all people. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones who disagree with us politically or religiously. Sometimes I can't figure out why, but he does. An innate trait that flows from him creating us. So, this is a given.
What does it mean for Christ followers? Like God, we should recognize the innate value all people have, and treat them accordingly. Not becoming doormats, Jesus modeled tough love, because a desire for the best of the other motivated him. As it should us. And, that love should be observable, in our attitudes and actions. How do we respond when wronged or disagreed with? I suspect, if Christians acted more in love, there'd be more of us.
Second, sometimes God sees us, validly, in just one of two groups. Go two verses later, "Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son" (John 3:18). God's prime distinction, on a spiritual level, do we believe in his son or not. That's it. No mas. Once that gets determined, other issues come into play, but this dominates. Why? It demonstrates if we know God or not, if we go to heaven or not.
But we need to clarify what it means to "believe," for even demons believe Jesus is God's son. The best synonym is trust. Do we trust in Jesus as our pathway to God? Do we trust he knows more about life than we do? Do we trust in him as friend, Savior, and Lord? Do we put our lives in his hands to do as he desires?
What does this mean for Christ followers? Let's grasp the reality that if a person doesn't know Jesus, on a spiritual level their behavior has no effect on their lack of a relationship with God. Obviously, the behavior God desires from us will benefit us--he made us and best knows how we function best. But they stand outside a relationship. So why do we so often try to change the behavior of unbelievers? It's irrelevant. They just get ticked off at us trying to tell them what they can or cannot do! And if they do change their behavior, they're a better person but still outside God.
So maybe we can end our crusades to change the actions of nonchristians. Love them. Value them. Respect them. Disagree agreeably. Have healthy discussions. Focus on doing what we can to bring them to a relationship of trust in Jesus. Avoid anger. Avoid insults. Avoid condescension. To use the words of King Arthur from Camelot, "Love them. Simple love them."
Kick Starting the Application
Do you try to change the behavior on nonchristians? In what ways? Has it worked? What tone do you typically take in a discussion that gets heated? Do these express the kind of love God has for all people? Think of a person in your life, an unbeliever, what can you do this week to express God's love? Will you?