Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Christ has made this relationship to one another eternally permanent. Whether or not we want to admit it, all of us are joined together by God, through Christ, with every single living, breathing soul on earth.
But these days, if we gaze out over the landscape of our world, and consider how we fare with others, near and far, we’d never know we’re related at all. We snarl and yell at “those people” who disagree with us or don’t do what we think is right. We judge and demean the others, portraying them to be some kind of monsters.
The recent wrangling over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault by the judge, provides certain evidence of the gulf that stands between people of different points of view just in this country alone—a gulf that we keep filling up with more hatred of and threats against those people whom we identify as “the other”–idiots, evil, a threat, demons that must be stopped at all costs.
Facebook and other social media websites provide convenient ways for us to further vilify other individuals and groups of people who don’t agree with our way of thinking. On these platforms, false accusations are difficult to distinguish from the truth, and without checking on trusted websites that make it their work to fact check stories or rumors making the rounds on the internet, we forward on the stories that affirm our point of view and put down others who hold different ideas. All of these actions, quite frankly, are sinful and heartbreaking.
If we claim the name Christian this behavior has to stop. If we say we are disciples of Christ, and then treat others with distain and hatred–if we hope for their “come-uppance,” or delight in their demise because we’ve decided they’re no good—we are far from following Christ’s commands, and revealing Christ’s better way, to the world.
Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth, speaks of that better way of living—the way that follows the example Christ set for us while he walked this earth. Check out the famous “love chapter”—chapter 13, and we’re reminded that Christ’s better way of living in relationship with one another is all about loving others selflessly. Jesus set the standard for this lifestyle. Time and again, Jesus reached out to or engaged with those deemed to be the society’s bottom dwellers—the ill, the beggar, the orphan, the foreigner, the child, the widow. Time and again, when Jesus had a beef with the religious leaders of his day, he was found engaging in conversation with them. He taught. He preached. He led by example. He treated all with respect because all were precious children of God, and members of his clan.
It might be tough, at times, to remember that when Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave us some major-league responsibilities. We’re to share his story, teach his Gospel and bring others to faith in him. He promised the Holy Spirit would make it possible for us to do what he asked. The Spirit’s power would enable us to love and live as he did. The Spirit would enable us to live joyfully and hopefully in the face of difficulties and challenges. The Spirit would give us the words and the ability to share love and build up and strengthen the bonds of community within our family—those who live close by, and those who live around the globe.
That building up in Christ should help alleviate the divisions and rancor that none of us like and should help usher in the Spirit-driven day when we can live together as God’s beloved children.
It’s a challenge, to be sure, but one I hope we all can commit to taking on, in Christ’s name, and for his sake and the sake of all God’s children.
Yours in Christ’s Service,