Racism and prejudices were the first topics in our current Life.Church message series, How To Neighbor. You can watch it here. Many hearts were stirred and challenged to actively show love to all people, regardless of their background or color. It was just awesome.
When I heard the message, I realized that I do sometimes have prejudices in my heart toward those who are different than me. I think many Christians tend to do this. If I see someone who looks rough and tough around the edges, with profanity coming from their lips, I’m going to think, “This person needs to know my Savior, Jesus.” Sure, there may not be anything wrong with this assessment. It’s likely to be true. But let’s be honest and ask ourselves this question:
How do my judging thoughts–whether they are accurate or not–affect my heart, and vice versa?
Our answer to this question determines our actions.
In his message, my husband shared this powerful quote: “Racism isn’t just the presence of hatred; it’s the absence of love.” Hmm… the absence of love… When is there an absence of love in me? Well, if my heart is proud or self-focused, then my pre-judging thoughts towards my “neighbor” will not propel me toward acts of love.
Here is another question to mull over:
Do I withhold showing love to someone because they have a different opinion than me?
Think along the lines of their political beliefs, favorite sports teams, faith, etc. Think of them by name. I’m sure you know other Christians who you don’t see eye to eye with, right?
I think it’s time to apply a great Bible verse, Ephesians 4:1-6: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The day after this first How To Neighbor message, someone came down hard on me. I unintentionally hurt their feelings. My heart began to judge their heart for being offended at me for what seemed like a petty reason. But I slowly realized that my love for them shouldn’t change. I shouldn’t hold back my love or ration my affection because of how they were treating me. No doubt, it hurts to be blamed! But if I am to love my neighbor as myself, that means I will love them when they are good to me and when they are not.
This is the kind of love that Jesus had.
He loves sacrificially and unconditionally. If I just love those who love me, what good have I done? Unbelievers do that, too. My neighbor shouldn’t only be the nice girl or guy next door. Loving our neighbors should be a sacrificial expression that is willing to go to extremes, even when you may think differently and disagree with them.
This is the way that Jesus lived. So whether it’s the color of someone’s skin, the neighborhood they come from, the different ideas that they have, or how they feel about you– none of that should matter. Love knows no bounds. It knows no prejudice. Truly, love never fails.
Galatians 5:6 says the only thing that counts is our faith expressing itself through love. Now by God’s grace and power that lives in me, I’m not going to shut people out of my heart because we don’t agree. No more putting up walls. No more barriers to protect myself. Just faith, hope, and love.