Monday, July 20, 2015
“I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand.” ― Charles de Lint (and me)
Only 16% of Americans can tolerate lactose, meaning that 84% are lactose intolerant. Now, to my way of thinking, that means that so many are lactose intolerant there should be no “lactose intolerant” label as the vast majority of people are that way. Instead, there should be labels on things marking them for the small percentage that are “lactose tolerant” as they are the true minority, and their condition is the aberration not the other way round. I also suspect that were Christ to return today, He would pretty much find the same situation among those who call themselves Christian. Only a small percentage of those who claim the name really are, and, if you read yesterday’s blog, He will know them by their love, not their rhetoric or their church attendance. When we train our pastors and evangelists (lay pastors) here, we teach them to preach and show Christian love, as Christ asked us to do. Our pastors seldom if ever preach from the Old Testament unless it is to illustrate a negative or to show us, as in Naomi’s case, what real love looks like. We teach them the many, many scriptures that talk about, demonstrate, and command that we love each other and that the term “neighbor” has nothing to do with geography or political ideology or tribal identification. Love your neighbor as yourself means to love others, whoever they are. We are even told to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to never repay evil for evil, yet many sermons I have heard in churches in America and on television preach just the opposite. That’s sad. Of course, we also must love ourselves, and I am the first to admit that that is a problem I share with many. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to those we think (or can see) who are thinner, prettier, have more money, have more power, have more prestige, or have cars that we wish we could afford, but that is not how Christ sees us. Newborns are not beautiful by any empirical or societal measure, but there is no parent who does not see the most beautiful child in the world when they behold their own. That is the way God sees us, as His own newborns, ugly perhaps when reflected in human mirrors, but gorgeous and blessed when seen through the eyes of God. Mother Teresa once said that she had never seen an ugly human only the glory of God in human form. She was right, too. If you are drowning and someone throws you a lifeline, you never question the looks or position or wealth of the one who threw it. Instead, you are relieved and grateful because it was the caring act of saving your life that counted, not the face or shape of the one who saved you. The picture to the right shows Pope Francis showing the rest of us how Christians should respond to the ugliness that we use to define others and to make them inferior to ourselves. In many cases, we see ourselves as the man being held instead of seeing ourselves as the caring arms holding him. Love is love. God is love. Love is the message and substance and essence of Christianity. St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying that we should preach every day, and, if necessary, to use words. If you have to tell someone you are a Christian, you probably aren’t. You will be remembered for how you cared for others long after all your possessions have turned to dust. There will be a judgement day, and you can tell now how you will do on that day. Just read Matthew 25: 31-46 as these are the words of Christ himself, not some modern day commentator or pastor. The Son of God has told us exactly how we will be judged (in red letters in my Bible) and that is enough for me. I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to what He has said was the most important way to live. Don’t take my word for it, read Christ’s words in that passage of Matthew and note that He never says anything about weight, or beauty, or material wealth, only about caring for the needy, the sick, the prisoner, and the poor. If you cannot love, you cannot truly live.