One only needs to turn on a television or log onto social media to see that we are a nation divided. “We the People” have begun separating into subgroups based on external qualities such as our race, our religion, our politics, our sexual preference, etc. In doing this, we are losing sight of our most important identity. Above all, we are children of God… daughters and sons of The King.
Christ gives us the great commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). He takes it a step further and instructs us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-47). These are unconditional commandments. He does not say “love your neighbors as long as they agree with you” or “only love your neighbors who are just like you.” Instead, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 30-37) makes it clear that Christ’s definition of “neighbor” is all-inclusive. The apostle John adds that if we do not love, then we do not know God (1 John 4: 8-9).
To love unconditionally is a tall order that is virtually impossible to follow on our own. We are all imperfect and fall short. The beauty of Christianity is that we have a God who expects a lot from us but provides us with the power and strength to act according to His will. If we are truly committed to loving God, then we cannot help but grow into better versions of ourselves.
When I am tempted to rant about the evils of a specific group or post something hurtful on-line, I’ve learned to pause and breathe deeply. Then, I ask myself whether the action I am about to take reflects who I want to be and who God wants me to be. At such moments, a simple prayer asking God for guidance is usually enough to set me straight.
In all our interactions with others (in person or online), Paul’s advice to the Ephesians provides an ideal that is worth striving for: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths (or out of your keyboards), but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (or read). And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32)
These are powerful words. If we act in accordance with them and take time to see the divine spark within each person we encounter, we can truly reflect the light of Christ into a dark and hurting world.