As anyone who knows me in real life most likely knows (and as I mentioned here some years back), I'm a big fan of the Amazing Race. Although I doubt I could physically handle being a contestant on the show myself, I still enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of those who do get the opportunity to compete.
One of my favorite teams on the show's current season is Zev & Justin, two guys I could imagine hanging out with in my own circle of friends. Zev has Asperger Syndrome, a condition that, among other things, makes it a challenge to form close friendships with others. Justin is the friend who looked past those surface difficulties and embraced the valuable person he saw underneath.
In that respect, Justin has acted as a follower of Christ more truly than many who call themselves Christians. (I don't know anything about Justin's beliefs, but Matt. 25:31-46 and other passages suggest that our actions are more important than our words.) In my own life I'm deeply grateful for the Justins that have come along and accepted me as I am, sometimes at times when it wasn't easy to see that I had anything worthwhile to offer in return.
That simple act of unconditional acceptance is so much more powerful than we like to give it credit for. In the long run it's far more transformative than any number of well-intentioned efforts to force a person to change - and it ultimately earns us that platform that we so strongly covet to be an influence in the lives of those around us.
Conservative evangelicals have become our poster children for those who like to pick on other people's sins, but we've all done it at one time or another, either directly or through acts of rejection. For my own part I like to think that I've succeeded at least a few times in unconditionally accepting others (an act of self-sacrifice, to be sure), but I still have to face the fact that I've failed to do so many other times.
The world has plenty of moralists; what it really needs is more best friends.