…is love, sweet love…
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone. (by Hal David and Burt Bacharach – 1965)
The country is awash in conflict, protests, looting, vandalism and just about every other adversarial kind of interaction that we can imagine. And it isn’t the first time that we have experienced this but it may well be the most intense confrontations we have had since the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago or the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Race relations in this country have been strained for generations. And I want to be sure to admit that I have no real idea on what members of the black community have lived through as they have grown up. I have no idea what it is to be afraid to walk or drive through a white community and risk being profiled or pulled over by the police – much less being beaten or killed as we have recently seen in the news.
I hope that all of us can agree that police overreach and excessive force is wrong – likewise, looting, destroying businesses and defacing public spaces is also wrong. So both sides of the argument are to some degree at fault here. The question is what we are going to do to provide ways to real reconciliation. That’s never an easy question and even people within each camp don’t agree with their countrymen when it comes to ways that we should resolve our differences.
The problem with most of these discussions is that they tend to heat up after an event like the death of George Floyd and then dissipate as the news cycle ends and something else takes over the front page. Unfortunately, it may take another event to bring these necessary discussions front and center again. However, maybe this time we can keep the conversation alive and not have to go through the trauma of starting and stopping all the time.
I like to think that most people in this country believe in racial equality as well as religious tolerance, equality under the law and so many other things that should be in the fabric of our republic at this time in our history. I also know that I don’t have all the answers but this is when, of course, I turn to the Bible and see what God has to say on this subject.
It seems to me that Jesus was a master at advocating for the lame, the poor, the marginalized and many other people groups that were under-represented as equals. Time and again Jesus recounted parables and told stories about incidents that should cause us to stop and reflect on the desires of His heart for all people. In fact, Jesus was the object of scorn and not accepted by many people of the day – leading all the way to His crucifixion.
The people of God had expected their Messiah to be a knight coming in on a great horse to save the day. Nothing could be further from the way that it actually happened. Jesus, born in a stable, was marginalized Himself throughout His life and yet He has had been followed by countless millions of people throughout the last 2000 years. And the Bible has been one of the best selling books in the history of the world! Clearly, the lessons of Jesus have resonated with people and withstood the test of time.
Our verse for tonight highlights the words of Jesus as recorded by the apostle John in the Gospel bearing his name. John tells us, in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
My encouragement tonight is that we should all set our eyes on Jesus and follow the example that He set for us. My prayer is that if we all focus on Him that we may finally be successful in resolving the race problems we face and that we can live in harmony with one another, as Jesus would wish for us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…