Monday, June 20, 2016

How to be a Good Neighbor

I want to take just a minute to talk about the Orlando shooting. First, let's stop arguing about whether the shooter is an American extremist, or a Muslim extremist. The point is, he killed people and their families are hurting.

You know what hurts the families even more? Everyone arguing over whether this guy hated their loved one because they were American or because of their LGTBQ lifestyle. Those people don't care why their loved one was killed, but they might care what we are all going to do about it.

And, before you go there, I am NOT going to say increase gun control. That's not the answer folks, and it never will be. (Unless, of course, guns begin loading, aiming, and firing themselves.)

What I am referring to, is being the change this world needs. If each and every person who reads this post will commit to loving others the way that Jesus loved, it could spark a small movement. If everyone who reads, also shares it, the movement would grow.

As the Lorax said, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." So, what about it? Do you care "a whole awful lot?"

Christians these days are being portrayed as haters of Muslims, Gays, Trans, Blacks, Mexicans and so on. Let me ask you, Christian, is that who you are? No?

So tell me how you are showing God's love to those people then? Do you preach at them? (Not love.) Invite them to church so they will see the error of their ways? (Not love.) Boycott their business because of their political affiliation, race, religion, or lifestyle choices? (Also, not love.) Refuse to make their wedding cake because you disagree with their choices? (Still not love.) Maybe you really believe that you have every right to refuse them service, and maybe that's true, but does it further the kingdom of Heaven? Does your refusal to make their cake reflect Christian love and forgiveness? Those people you refused to serve, God loves them too. 

And they aren't the only ones looking at you. The eyes of lost people everywhere are on you too. Are they thinking, "Wow, I want what she has--that kind of conviction about my beliefs--to be able to just turn down that order and their money?" Or are they thinking, "Wow, Christians are bigots and terrible people. How can they be so heartless?"

So, like I asked, are your actions furthering the kingdom of Heaven? Or paving the road to Hell? Personally, I don't believe that God is going to turn me away from heaven for choosing to love others rather than alienate them.

Here are a few ways that you can love your neighbor.

-Invite them to places (not just to church, but to family dinner, BBQs, and hanging out at the pool.

-Accept them where they are--this does not mean you have to agree with their lifestyle, or religious or political views--just that you value them as a person.

-Let your kids play together. (This may necessitate a conversation with your child beforehand about how Jenny has 2 dads, and we should show them love and kindness even though we may not agree with their choices.)

-Stick up for them when you hear others talking down or gossiping. (This may make you unpopular with the modern day Pharisees.)

-Pray for them--not just that they realize their choices are "wrong" but pray that God moves in their life and blesses them abundantly.

Remember Matthew 22:39 "Love your neighbor as yourself." Not, Love your neighbors with similar political views, or love your neighbors if they are straight, or love your neighbors if they are good people. NO! It says Love your neighbor.

Remember the story of the good samaritan? (Luke 10:30-37). The Samaritin was supposed to hate this guy he helped--maybe he was a Trans man or woman who got beat up/robbed/raped because of his/her lifestyle. Maybe he helped a mama that has been shamed about allowing her child to fall into a gorilla pit. Let me ask you, can YOU be the Good Samaritin to THAT man or woman?

Lord, help me to learn to Love like Jesus. Help me to be willing to look past the labels and lifestyles, and to rise above the name-calling, judgemental person I can sometimes be. Help me to be the change that my community needs. Amen.

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