“6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the
beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
II John 1:6 NIV
In this dark season when all seems to strain our every fiber of faith one truth rings clear: God is Love.
As we face the final weeks of a bitter political season, as the pandemics of the coronavirus and systemic racism march on and neighbor seems angry at neighbor in ways unseen for over a century and a half, we can put our faith in the words of Jesus Christ.
From every corner of the nation, every broadcast, even some pulpits the anger spews, but John reminds us of the command which Jesus gave in Matthew.
“39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:36 NIV
Loving our neighbor is not just about loving those like us. It is not loving those who worship as you worship, walk as you walk, have the same skin tone or cultural background. Our neighbor is everyone. We are called to more than friendly relationships; we are called to have a heart felt deep connection with all people including those we think of as “less than”.
In John, chapter 4 verses 1 through 42, we read the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It is a prime example of privilege and difference. Jesus, a Jew should look down on the woman not the least because she is a woman and a Samaritan, but because as we learn her history, she is not the most savory of characters. Yet Jesus does not look down on her. He asks her for a drink of water. To which the woman responds in surprise – a Jew asking a Samaritan for anything. He then offers her the greatest gift of mankind, grace. He lays out for her the truth of the coming of God’s Kingdom. And through this unlikely source, this “less than”, He reaches a whole town of people leading them to salvation.
If we indeed walk in Christ, we must lay down the privilege of being better than our neighbors. We must put aside the differences that may be obvious and those that are hidden. We cannot, in the white church, walk in the black mother’s shoes, we know nothing of her worries and fears for her children. We cannot walk in the shoes of the immigrant who has fled violence our eyes will never witness. We cannot walk in the shoes of the homeless woman plagued by mental ghost that keep her from living a “normal” life. But we can love them. Just as Jesus showed love to the woman from Sychar, a Samaritan. We can offer our support and our grace to everyone. Whether we meet or only hear of their plight, we can be humble allies in their walk toward justice.
In his book, God and the Pandemic, N. T. Wright speaks of Jesus always looking forward. And although the book is primarily about the Coronavirus, much of what he writes can be added to the pandemic of racism, anger and distrust that we face today.
As with many of his books he asserts that Jesus was the final warning, that His death and resurrection ushered in the Kingdom of God and we are now struggling to learn to live in that Kingdom. We are called now to bring justice to our brothers and sisters in chains, whether they be slavery, poverty or illness. We are called to build the Kingdom now by loving one another without reservation. Instead of looking for a scapegoat, we are to look on everyone with loving grace, just as Jesus has looked on us with grace.
We have been told, in the gospels and the Old Testament what we are to do. Micah 6:8 reads:
“8The LORD God has told us
what is right
and what he demands:
“See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God.”
Micah 6:8 CEV
We are to do what is right. Stand with the downcast. We are to seek justice for all races. We are to show mercy, not condemnation for those “less than” ourselves. And doing this we will humbly obey God. In laying ourselves before Jesus and letting the Spirit guide our hearts we can put aside our privilege and build the kingdom together, just as Jesus did in the Samaritan town of Sychar through the unlikely character of a woman disdained by her own people.
Loving one another is more than a quip; more than a passing fad; it is a heartfelt, deep, energy filled action that looks beyond the appearance and finds the grace of God surrounding all people of all forms. Let us live in God’s love for this world.
6601 Northwest 72nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64151 | 816-741-1851