In this series, I am encouraging each of us to look in the mirror and take on the personal responsibility you have to yourself, your family, and to society in general. Too often, I believe, we dedicate too much effort and mindshare to our stance on an issue and therefore miss out on a great opportunity to Do Better. Doing better requires us to look at the heart of a matter and selflessly make a difference in the life of another individual or group.
Take the issue of immigration. You may be passionately for or against a wall. You may care deeply about how our elected officials and public servants are protecting the border of (y)our country. However, regardless your stance, are you serving the sojourner in your land?
I, for one, am grateful that the responsibility for the protection of the border of my country is not on my shoulders. And I am grateful that there are those responsible for and willing to take on that work. Since that responsibility lies with someone else, though, what is my responsibility?
In speaking to the nation of Israel, God had this command recorded in Deuteronomy 10:19, “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” The nation was given a land of their own, but only after they were delivered out of slavery from another land. It is relevant, I believe, to remember that the USA is not the native land for almost everyone who will read this blog. We all came from somewhere. So, we should love those who also have come from somewhere else, even if more recently. In God’s eyes, native Israelites and foreigners were the same (Numbers 15:15), and the laws and benefits of the land applied to both equally.
In the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, the storyline goes that a certain Israelite falls victim to robbers, is beaten to within an inch of his life and left alongside the road. Two fellow Israelites see him but quickly move on without providing him any assistance. Then a man from Samaria comes along, nurses him back to health, gets him set up with a caretaker and offers to pay all expenses for the man as he recovers. The moral of the story? Israelites and Samaritans hated each other. The norm for that society would have been for the Samaritan to kick him while he was down. But he chose compassion and loving the man he was supposed to hate.
Who are you supposed to hate according to the norms of our society? Perhaps the immigrant (legal or not), perhaps the refugee, perhaps the person with different ethnic background or skin color, perhaps the person with a different lifestyle than you. What if you decided to Do Better? To love rather than hate. What does this look like? There are too many options to list here, but here are a few:
- Locate a refugee community in your city and offer assistance, and friendship, as they adapt to life here.
- Buy a homeless person a meal; sit with them to share the meal and listen to their story. Find out where they spend their time and then follow up with them to build a relationship.
- Seek out someone that is different than you and build a relationship based upon mutual understanding of each other. Agree or disagree, but see the value in one another.
- Become a mentor to someone, but do not miss out on the opportunity to learn from them also.
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