Who is My Neighbor?

This article recently appeared in the Hickory Daily Record, the Taylorsville Times, and at Just Ministry.

I arrived a few minutes before my friend for our weekly breakfast at a local greasy spoon. After ordering my usual tea, I noticed the conversation of the two older gentlemen seated across the room. They were brashly discussing the issues of the day, including the migrant caravan meandering its way from Central America toward the US border with Mexico; unsurprisingly, the two blue collar philosophers had a solution. To my horror and disgust, the remedy was to “lob some bombs into the crowd.” By applying the nomenclature of “invaders” to the group traveling toward our southern border, these gentlemen felt no shame in calling for the migrants’ untimely and brutal demise.

This eavesdropped conversation took place within the context of a week where two former presidents were sent packages with explosive materials, eleven innocent worshipers were gunned down in their synagogue by a bigoted, anti-Semitic madman, and two African Americans were executed in Louisville because of the color of their skin.

With that much hate on display over the last week, my fellow diners intimated that executing a few citizens of Central America is a joking matter for the first meal of the day (I hope they were joking).

What concerns me more than the flippant ignorance on display as I sipped my tea is the sobering reality that I have heard expressions not substantially dissimilar uttered by those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. This is a scandal; a scandal because the Christian faith is built on the bedrock principle that all people are created in the image of God. Not some people. Not just Christian people. All people, everywhere, at all times, are created by God and in His image. Our Lord sent His Son to die for all those created in His image—black and Jew, Latino and white, Democrat and Republican, and even two misguided greasy spoon patrons.

God sent His Son to reconcile the broken relationship sin created between God and those created in His image. He did so because He loves the world (John 3:16) and calls on His followers to love Him, and as an extension, to love their neighbor as they love themselves (Mark 12:30-31).

This must be our commitment as believers; we must rise above hate. We must not allow ideologies—political or cultural—to dictate our worldview. Our worldview is rooted in God’s Word, driven by His calling to make disciples of all nations, and reflected in our love for our neighbors.

When politicians discourage civility, we reject their call. When celebrities attempt to define morality, we rest in the truth revealed in Scripture. When leaders act like children, we pray for them—praying that they lead well (1 Timothy 2:1-2). When pundits seek to divide, we are quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; knowing that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).

Brothers and Sisters, we do these things because our calling is not of this world. The King of Glory is above political parties and cultural rhetoric. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords in every political era. He will still reside on His throne when everything we have built lies in rubble. Friends, our calling in Christ is an eternal calling make disciples of all people. Let us not damage the effectiveness of that calling by sacrificing our witness on the altar of the temporal.

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