“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Matthew 22:36-39 (NLT)
For most Christians, it’s pretty obvious that we’re supposed to be loving others. We all know it; we all agree with it; we’ll all shout it from the rooftops. But do we live it?
It’s one thing to love our friends, our family, our poor neighbor who just needs a bit of help since her husband just died. In short, it’s easy (comparatively) to love those who are similar to us. To love those whom we like.
But it seems to be a bit harder to love those who are other.
I am heartbroken by the news I’ve been hearing recently and the upsurge in hate towards people of a different ethnicity and/or religion. Specifically (though they aren’t the only group to experience hate in America and elsewhere), Arab Americans and Muslims. I name these groups specifically because I began writing this post after hearing about the attack in London near a mosque and the Muslim girl who was abducted and beaten to death in Virginia.
In the wake of these attacks, I saw a young American Muslim girl talk about how she feared going out on the streets in her traditional religious garb. Before, she could expect taunts and odd looks and behavior around her. But now, she’s afraid.
No one should have to fear for their lives because of the color of their skin, where they’re from, or their religion. No one.
The Problem in America
We live in the United States of America, a nation founded on freedom. Meaning people have freedom to be who they want to be and believe in what they want to believe in. But, in the midst of all this hate, that freedom is being uprooted. Sure, the law says I’m free to worship whichever god I wish, and sure, the law says I can immigrate here from the Middle East. But hate is virtually making the law ineffective.
It doesn’t matter if I’m legally able to be a Christian if the people in my country attack and kill me for being a Christian.
But what does all this mean for Christians?
Because, surely, Christians aren’t the ones perpetuating all of that. Right?
Unfortunately, some Christians are. But those aren’t the ones I’m talking about. I want to focus on the “neutral” Christians, those who would never take part in perpetuating hate, never ever. When asked about it, of course they say it’s awful, that it’s unbiblical, that it’s just plain wrong. But, at the same time, they don’t do anything to stop it.
I’m focusing on this group because it’s the group I find myself falling into, and the line of thinking that propels this group can be sneaky, slimy, and hard to break out of. I know. Because we aren’t doing anything wrong. We aren’t the ones hating on others. We aren’t the ones committing violent acts. It’s not us. It’s not on our shoulders.
Except it is.
Jesus called us to love our neighbors. Are we loving them if we watch as they are beaten, attacked, and killed? Are we loving them if we stand by as their neighborhood places are looted and destroyed?
Further, we were called to make disciples of all the nations and to be a light on hilltop that cannot be hidden.
Being a light means that we don’t blend into the darkness around us. We stand out. We shine bright for Jesus.
We do that by loving where others hate, by welcoming where others cast out, by acting as Jesus would in a world devoid of His love.
After all, if we wish to share Jesus with everyone to the ends of the earth, and to be effective in doing so, we must first gain their trust. Would you listen to someone who didn’t seem to care about you? Probably not. Therefore, we need to show the others that we care about them.
Isn’t that what Jesus, who invited tax collectors and sinners to eat with him, would do?