These are times of change. COVID 19 has thrown a good portion of the world into a tizzy of uncomfortable changes like millions of people losing their fathers, mothers, friends, and coworkers to the virus and unable to say goodbye. Or millions of people who are now employed while others are losing their businesses because of mandated closures. Medical workers are stretched beyond capacity to care for the sick and dying while trying to protect themselves from the disease too. We have stayed home to protect ourselves and others. For weeks, life as “normal” came to a screeching halt. In some ways it was a uniting time. World-wide, people came together through music, dance, comedy, and even applause in support of the medical teams. We have zoomed together, laughed together, cried together, rallied together, and we loved each other.
If we either loved each other as Jesus commanded or believed that God loves each person we encounter would that have changed the course of the past few weeks of racial tension. People are outraged and angry because of another senseless death. Once again, we are at a place where a person of color, George Floyd was murdered in front of us by police officers. A white woman, Amy Cooper called 911 because she felt threatened by a black man, Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher, when he asked her to leash her dog according to the park policy. And finally, a black man, Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death while jogging. These are just a few of a long list of injustices that happen daily to our black and brown brothers and sisters. In this time of liminal space of change and transformation, I recognize that nothing has been transformed for them. In spite of changes that have happened since Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement little progress has been accomplished to ensure that we are all equal and created in the image of God. That we are loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. The Bible does not say, love only those people who are like us, who believe like us, are the same color as us or are a particular gender or of a certain economic status. In a biblical parable known as the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked a rich man what were the two most important commands to obey and the man said, “Love the Lord God with your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself,“ (Luke 10: 25-37). Did you read that? The two most important commands for us to remember is to love the Lord God with our hearts, soul and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves! The continued racism against black and brown people does not follow either one of those commands. If we believe that all people are created in God’s image, then how can we hate the “other” so much. If we believe that all people are created in God’s image, then how can we hate the “other” so much. I have heard people say that they don’t hate anybody, but if they stand by and watch unjust treatment of others, they cannot be indifferent and unresponsive to their pain.Love is more than just words!
As the parable story continues to unfold, the rich man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told him a story about a man who was beaten by robbers and left for dead. Two religious leaders passed him by without giving assistance, but a hated Samaritan man stopped to help him. He got in the wounded man’s space without any consideration for his own safety. He bandaged his wounds, put him on the donkey and took him to an inn and paid for his care and as he was leaving assured the innkeeper that he would return to check on the man and pay for any additional expenses. Following this story, Jesus asked the rich man to identify who he thought was the neighbor. He identified the neighbor as the Samaritan. Basically, the Samaritan caregiver was the “other” of the story because he did not look like the rich man. He did not have the same opportunities as the rich man, or the privilege of wealth and status afforded to him. Regardless of who the rich man was, Jesus did not end the discussion without challenging the him to “go and do likewise.” This story is relevant in our lives today as in the first century. Do you see people who are different than you as your neighbor? Are we caring for our neighbor? Remember, you will never look into the eyes of someone that God does not love, Regardless of our color, gender, wealth or status, Jesus commands us also “go and do likewise” to care and love others better.