Monday, August 21, 2017

Truth, Love, and Listening

Last weekend, events in Charlottesville, Virginia proved that hate and prejudice have devastating consequences. We are making strides, but there is more work to do. Yesterday, our guest speaker at church, Travis Burdett, encouraged us to:

Stand against hate and stand for love. 

To look within and identify our own prejudices- and let God change them. 

He challenged us to spend some time with someone very different from us. Someone we would not normally speak to. Someone we might judge harshly if we did not take a moment to truly see and understand. He challenged us to have a conversation and Listen. Really listen. With an open mind and loving heart. He said,

"Listening is Revolutionary in a world where everyone is yelling at one another." 


Jesus himself was an avid listener- and all who encountered him were challenged. Many were transformed simply by encountering Living Grace. What would Jesus do in light of recent events? Well, take a look at what Jesus actually did.


Jesus taught: 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength and all your mind- and love your neighbor as yourself." 


Then, Jesus defined "your neighbor" as a people that his own race saw as enemies. And Jesus did not just tell stories about showing kindness to your enemies. He went into enemy territory himself and lived out love.  

Jesus taught his shocked and surprised followers to put aside prejudices and hatred that went back generations, and get to know the Samaritans. To minister to them and show love. 


Jesus bridged the gap of hatred, prejudice, fear, and racism.  



Jesus also stood against evil.  He called evil out and named it. (Matthew 3:7 and Matthew 23:27 )


So what would Jesus have to say about last weekend's events? I think he'd speak against the evil that ran rampant and offer hope to those devastated and victimized. (Check out  Matthew 21:12-13 and notice how Jesus responded when salesmen were victimizing the poor, in God's house, no less.)


So in the spirit of what Jesus would do, let's get this clear:  Carrying a flag associated with hatred and prejudice is evil.

Spreading messages of racism, prejudice, oppression, or hatred is evil.

The Nazi Flag is a symbol of an evil man who brutally and horrifically slaughtered millions. His regime was demonic, as were his prejudiced beliefs.

Jesus opposed such evil. He taught his followers to "love their enemies". He set the example of lavish love. 


1 John 4:7-8 urges, 

Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God. 


God is the embodiment of love. Anyone who seeks to connect God to a message of hate does not have the truth of God in them. Prejudice is from the enemy of our souls and not of God


So, in light of recent events, what can we do?

We can examine ourselves before God and resist falling for the subtler temptation of judging others by what they wear, how they live, or even, how they present themselves.

We can recognize that God loves diversity,  and take the opportunity to learn from those who, from outer appearances, seem different from us.

We can throw out prejudices and be enriched by our differences.



In Psalm 27: 5 David, God's chosen King says, 

The Eternal is my light against my darkness
So whom shall I fear? 


Oh, how we need God's light!! Especially in the face of darkness.

There are legitimate fears we must battle. It's natural to be afraid for loved ones and friends who may be persecuted.  Yet we overcome that hatred if we stand for truth. We, too, can be a light against darkness, if God's love is the spark that fuels. 


It's important to remember that our very saving comes through Jesus,whose race was among the labelled and targeted last weekend. 


Jesus--whose human heritage was Jewish. Jesus, who was raised in a Jewish home and a Jewish culture. Jesus, who studied the Torah diligently, and lived and taught its principals. Jesus, whose goal was not to stamp out Judaism, but complete it.

Jesus who was Jewish, in and out, through and through. The Savior of a broken world was, and is Jewish. We must remember what Jesus taught his disciples: 



All races, all heritages, all peoples 
are precious in God's sight. 


 The antidote to hatred is the all covering Love of Jesus. He is our saving, day by day. From the darkness within and the darkness without. Let's work to spread awareness. Let's make a point to stand against hatred, while standing FOR love. 


Will you stand with me?