I’ve been ruminating over the past few weeks about what the real problem with things are today. I really am just bumfuddled (it’s a word, look it up) as to how so many good, decent people can be so quick to join in on the hate these days. Especially with people in the church, there seems to be a rather large disconnect between “love your neighbor as yourself” and “hey, lets kick a bunch of people while they’re already having a rough time.”
And, before you light in on me with the “I’ve got to protect me and mine from those that want to take advantage of me/the system” or whatever, please just hear me out for a minute.
I really do believe that the problem is that we fail to see others as ourselves. It’s easy to do with family or others in our tribe. That’s not the issue. However, as Christians we are commanded to do that outside of our circles — even our enemies.
We are called to seek justice and mercy for those that are marginalized.
Until I see their point of view, there will be a disconnect and the world will be broken. I must see myself in the refugee leaving all I’ve ever know for a chance at safety. I need to walk in the shoes of the black teenager that is side-eyed with suspicion as he walks down the street. I have to feel the fear and discomfort of the transgendered kid nervously hoping that the bathroom is empty so I can just use it in peace.
The heart of the gospel is that we are broken and we did it to ourselves. But God, in his love for us, came among us to live and die so he could welcome us into his presence.
And so we are called to extend the same to others.
Here in the United States we have a pull yourself up by the bootstraps self made man theory of the world. That the only way to better your life is through your own hard work, smarts and abilities. But this is a lie. The poor will always be among us. There will always be those that for whatever reasons are not able to pull themselves up by their own power just as we are unable to redeem ourselves. Even if you look at this rationally. statistically not everyone is going to succeed. There are simply not enough resources in the world for everyone to be a billionaire with a beautiful house and a beautiful car and a beautiful wife.
And so, we are called to charity. Not just as an occasional donation but a way of life. Another word for charity is love. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Eventually we come back to the idea that we need to see others as being us. I need to empathize with those that mourn and not fear them. Fear and love cannot exist together.