Love Excludes Prejudice

4 10 2015

mosque protest

 

There are anti-Islam protests—some armed—planned across America this Sunday, October 10th. Please take a moment to read about it here: http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2015/09/29/anti-muslim-protests-some-armed-planned-for-at-least-20-sites-across-the-country/

How does that article make you feel? Is it possible to be a patriot and yet love your neighbor too?

This Sunday my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful church service in Indonesia, specifically for the poor, the prostitutes, and the mentally insane. About 60 people, or half the congregation, came from this last group. These were women who used to wander the streets naked, or were rejected by their families because they had become unable to function in the world. Some of them still don’t speak at all. But they were welcome at this special church service for them.

I noticed the worship band was made up of good-looking, smartly dressed young people who were there to serve others. As they sang, everyone was invited to dance to the music, which many of the crazy people seemed to really enjoy. Those able to speak were invited to take the stage and share how God had answered their prayers. It was a beautiful, joyful moment in the week when everyone’s individual problems could be put aside to belong to God’s family together.

The next morning I was reading the Passion translation of the Bible, and came across this heading to James chapter 2: The Royal Law of Love Excludes Prejudice. Verses 8-9 instruct us: Your calling is to fulfill the royal law of love as given to us in this Scripture: “You must love and value your neighbor as you love and value yourself!” For keeping this law is the noble way to live. But when you show prejudice you commit sin and you violate this royal law of love!

Here James is quoting both Moses and Jesus. He reminds us that following Jesus doesn’t mean there is no law—the Law of Love has become our “noble way to live.”

This love excludes all forms of prejudice. Whether it’s telling a black person to sit in the back of the bus, or giving a woman lower wages than a man for the same job, or refusing to sell your wedding cakes to a homosexual, or protesting the building of a mosque/church/any other house of worship in your community, or talking about any group of people with negative stereotypes—there is no room in the Royal Law of Love for any kind of prejudice.

The offering this church took from the poor and crazy I doubt would cover the cost of electricity for their sound system or their bread and juice for communion. Did they really need a full worship band with five vocalists and two dancers? After all, half the congregation might go home and immediately forget everything that happened. This church gave their best for the poor just as they probably had given in an earlier service that morning for the rich.

So I ask the American Christians reading this blog—is protesting at Islamic Centers across the nation the best we can give our Muslim neighbors? If not, what could we give them that shows our love? I’m talking about showing the same kind of love if those were our church members being victimized by hate? If that protest was outside our church, instead of our neighbor’s house of worship, what would we do?

One of the great challenges of being a peacemaker is loving all sides of an issue—loving the victimized Muslim neighbor, and loving the protesters shouting their hate at the same time. For those of you living in one of the targeted cities, I encourage you to ask God for your own creative way to fight prejudice with the Royal Law of Love.

“For keeping this law is the noble way to live.”

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Peacemaker of the World

19 01 2012
English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus in the Bible comes from Micah chapter 5.  Many Christians hear the beginning of this passage read at Christmas foretelling Jesus’ birth: “But you, Bethlehem…from you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel…”  But if you read in the Message translation, verses 2-4 end with the shepherd-ruler being ascribed this amazing title: “Peacemaker of the world!”

I remember teaching a group of Muslim students once about how similar Muslim and Christian views are concerning our future world peace.  Several Hadith (Muslim records of the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad) point to a future time when the Prophet ‘Isa will return to take leadership of the Muslim umat (the people of God), to correct all false teaching concerning himself, and to usher in a period of world peace under his leadership.  The Bible also foretells Jesus’ return to reward the people of God, when every knee will bow before him and confess him as Lord (no matter what they believed about him in the past), and that he will bring about a time of world peace under his Kingship, where even “the lion will lie down with the lamb.”

Although there are also some differences between Muslim and Christian views of the end times, I find it interesting that both groups are waiting for the coming of Jesus as the next major event on the eschatological calendar.  And if we’re all waiting to see Jesus face-to-face and to live under his Leadership, doesn’t it make sense for all of us to try and get to know him the best we can even now?

We’re already seeing that the Jesus of Ephesians 2 is the demolisher of separating walls between people, and he’s bringing peace already between many various groups who thought they could never be at peace with the other.  What’s happening already is just a foretaste of the time when Jesus returns to the earth and is acknowledged by all peoples as the great Peacemaker of the World.