It is 2016, and our world is falling apart. It is literally being divided by color, gender, sexuality, and beliefs.
Where is the love? Jesus taught in Matthew 22:39 that the Law hinges on love – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.
Do you see any exceptions to this? Did He say only love everyone who is the same skin color as you? The same belief as you? The same sexual orientation as you? With the same marriage ideals as you? Did He draw any lines? Did He allow for any exceptions?
Or was He inclusionary? Was He setting the standard of who to love? Yes, He was. He was ALL in, and He expects us to be ALL in as well.
But we as the human race are not doing very well. We’re not even close to His hope.
Why are we allowing room for intolerance of differences?
Why are we allowing hatred and fear drive us?
Why are we choosing to walk in ignorance – of feelings, of truth, of injustice – and allowing it to thrive?
This morning at church, I watched two African American pastors discuss their experiences walking through life with skin of color. With honesty about their reality (http://northpointonline.tv/messages/071016-message). And what I learned was simple – I don’t understand.
I don’t understand the conscious choices they make each day to keep themselves safe.
I don’t understand the automatic judgment they face each time they leave their homes.
I don’t understand the anxiety they live with, feeling the eyes of the world judging them – for both their actions and the choices of other people.
I don’t understand the resistance society gives them just because of the color of their skin.
I don’t understand the extra precautions they are taught (at home) to take when in the world.
I don’t understand the (real) possibility for getting pulled over while driving the speed limit (through a nice neighborhood).
I don’t understand what it means to walk through life in survival mode, hoping to stay alive (especially in tense situations).
I don’t understand what it means to be judged (harshly) based on a few people’s actions or behavior.
I don’t understand what it means to always have a fear of escalation when confronted by authority.
I don’t understand what it means when people purposely avoid me or being near me because I look differently from them.
I don’t understand what it means to be addressed with racial slurs and racist names because of my skin color.
I don’t know that I could ever understand. Because that is not the skin God put me in. So what I can do?
I can love. All people. All colors. All beliefs. All orientations.
Because color should never be a consideration in loving someone.
Color should never be a careful thought to exclude someone.
Color should never be a conscious choice to avoid someone.
Everyone is good enough for God. “There is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). He loves ALL people. He specifically designs us to be uniquely different (Psalm 139:13-14). Jesus proved it while in human skin by dining with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors – the people deemed most unworthy by society. So then I have no excuses.
When I choose to love – all encompassing love as God calls me to – then I have no room for exclusion. I have no place for avoidance. I have no space for hate (fear).
Our world is full of darkness. We’re allowing ourselves to be divided over things we don’t really understand, and we’re allowing ourselves to judge based on limited or inaccurate information.
Can’t we all stop where we are and choose a better way? Can’t we choose to “love your neighbor as yourself” at all times and in all circumstances?
Love isn’t impossible. Jesus proved it is actually quite easy when we choose to focus on God – and the beauty of His creation (Ephesians 2:10). When we choose to see people as God designed and God purposed. When we allow ourselves to realize we are all precious to Him.
So in this moment, allow God to speak to your heart. And then listen carefully.
Because He will help you see what you don’t know. And then He’ll help you grow.
Marie Fremin. 7/10/16