After a couple of decades of ministry, I have discovered something about people. Almost all people believe they are good and treat others as they want to be treated. Seldom do we share those stories that we hide deep in the darkest corners of our closets where we have not lived the Golden Rule. Sometimes we justify our actions as right or good…even moral. Just think through history.
Throughout time and space, we have seen the cutting edge of racism, classism, sectarianism, nationalism, ageism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism…the list is quite long. And behind all these destructive ideas are people that believe that they are right, good and moral. And while I wish we could say that we have advanced beyond these weapons of division, the sad truth is that we see it yet today.
We will use any measure of justification to make our arguments of how we are right in our beliefs and actions. And this isn’t confined to one society; instead, it plagues all societies. We can find a million different ways to divide the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’; the ‘holy’ from the ‘unholy.’ And if this is the flow of focus and energy, we will never know peace. We will always line up with like-minded people and thoughtfully care for ‘ours’ while tearing down the other. Is this the way of Christ?
Sadly, we can read into Jesus’ story our own bias. How else could millions of Jews be annihilated at the hands of Nazism? According to the 1939 census, 94% of Germans said they were Christians! We can too easily dismiss them as not like us. We don’t want to see how we could ever be like them. Yet, if we start paying attention to how we perceive others, what thoughts come through our minds? Just use the big words of this day that are accompanied by much controversy—immigrant, Muslim, homeless, welfare recipient– to name just a few. How would Jesus engage, respond and be with them? What does it look like to treat them as you want to be treated?