I woke up this morning and was wondering what I was going to write about. What is on my mind. Sometimes I have those days where there is so much on my mind I don’t even know what is up there. Kind of paradoxical. So I decided to go on Pinterest.com (check it out! It is awesome) and I stumbled upon the following photo:
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
- Thy Homeless Neighbor
- Thy Muslim Neighbor
- Thy Black Neighbor
- Thy Gay Neighbor
- Thy Immigrant Neighbor
- Thy Jewish Neighbor
- Thy Christian Neighbor
- Thy Atheist Neighbor
- Thy Disabled Neighbor
- Thy Addicted Neighbor
I am currently in Philadelphia leading a group of college students on a Religious Immersion experience where we are attempting to break down religious and non-religious boundaries in order to better serve the community. This t-shirt sums up our goal and our vision perfectly. Love. Now I could write forever on the topic of love, but I am going to focus on the love I have seen on this trip.
Basic. Human. Love.
We are all part of the human race and we all deserve to be treated as such no matter our culture, religion, skin color, sexual identity, nothing. I go back to my faith which tells me to love God and love others. I love because God loved first. Who am I to tell someone that they are NOT loved? Who am I to tell someone that they are not good enough? Who am I to tell someone that they are a bad person? Who am I to tell someone they do not deserve better? I am not. I do not have that ‘power,’ I do not want that ‘power,’ and I do not think I could even manage to handle that ‘power’ if I had the option to have it; which I do not.
Yes, I do not believe the religious basics of Islam or Atheism or Hinduism, or Sikhism, or Buddism, but that does not mean I cannot learn from those communities. On this trip I have learned so much from interacting with and serving with different religious communities, and I have discovered that there is something that unites us all. We do have a common thread and we can work together. We are not that different after all. Yes we have different religious beliefs and I ache that everyone comes to know God as their Savior, but it is time that ache does not hinder the work we can do on Earth. This connecting thread is simple. So simple, in fact, that so many of us overlook it and strive to attack our differences. This thread is love of humankind.
I have been able to experience immense hospitality with Sikh and Hindu community, more hospitality that I have experienced in many churches. I have been able to see doctrinal beliefs of many different worldly religions and I have discovered that the core teachings of loving others runs like a raging river through them all. Jesus talked about loving God first and then loving others. Putting others about our selves. The JOY acronym: Jesus Others You. Sikhs follow this concept of serving others and removing boundaries. Hindus follow it. Muslims follow it. Buddhists follow it. Quakers follow it. We all follow it. So I think that it is time that we stop fighting. We stop religious wars. We stop the petty arguments over denominations. We stop putting people into boxes and we serve. We love.
I would also like to pointedly say that I am not, by any means, budging on Christianity. I hold strong to my Christian beliefs, but I do not discriminate against people of different religions. I am here to love and to serve and it is not up to me to decide who I serve. I serve everyone, not a select few. Jesus came and lived among the poor, the destitute, the people that were hated in the community, and I am here to do just that. I want to serve and love the community like Jesus loved and served. I want to live my life like Christ.
I could continue on for hours, days, months but for now, I wanted to get the basic premise out there. Start raising awareness of the differences of the world and how we are all more similar that we think. There is no reason to hate on others. No reason to put others down. I am called to love and loving is what I will do. I am Taking a Leap to choose to be different and choose to love. Are you?