“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
– John 15:12 (ESV)
It seems so simple doesn’t it? That people should love and respect others as they would want to be loved and respected. Yet here we are in a country where our leaders and maybe 40% of the country agrees that it is better to build walls and send refugees away or deport undocumented immigrants or enable or empower hatred against Muslims, Jews, ethnic minorities, the LGBT community, or African Americans, or Hispanics.
How can these people claim to be Christian if they cannot even be neighborly? How can they ignore the example Jesus has set forth for us? Jesus didn’t look down upon anyone. He welcomed all to the table whether they were Jew, Gentile, tax collector, Pharisee, zealot, traitor, prostitute, sinner, leper, slave, free, Greek, Roman, Judean, Samaritan, and so on. And Jesus didn’t hold back His forgiveness… He offered it freely to all of mankind. He didn’t say one group was more worthy of forgiveness than any other. He didn’t say some groups were never to be forgiven or were beyond redemption either. Jesus said the path to the Kingdom of God was through Him. Jesus makes the call and Jesus has already declared that He seeks to forgive and welcome us all if only we seek Him.
Can we be as inclusive and welcoming and embracing as Jesus? Is there any real reason not to be? Is there any real obstacle keeping us from trying to be more neighborly? Is there anything really keeping us from wanting to build communities? What is stopping us from building bridges rather than walls of separation?
If it is fear and ignorance that is holding us back, then we owe it to ourselves to open up and reach out and learn more about the people around us. Let us engage the unknown and find common ground. Let us learn more about other cultures, other languages, other faiths and religions, and start to find common threads. Lets work to dismantle harmful stereotypes and false myths. Let’s embrace facts rather than fake news fictions. Let’s learn how to be good neighbors again.