One day some religious leaders approached Jesus and asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40). In 1 John 4 we are told, “God is love … let us love one another, because love is from God … Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars …”
We are all aware of the divisiveness that exists in our country and throughout our world today; some of which is because of our different spiritual and religious beliefs. Wars have been fought and blood shed in the name of God, and in continues. Family relationships are strained and friendships lost over our different beliefs and ways of looking at the world. It need not, nor should this be the case. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, simplified it all by telling us to love God, love ourselves, and love each other. No qualifications were put on this; no ifs, ands or buts. No conditions of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender or anything else were added.
Jesus came to love, not to judge; to build bridges of reconciliation, not walls of separation. He drew a circle to include all, not lines to exclude. The children’s song many of us sang in Sunday School reminds us, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight.” The story of creation in Genesis tells us that God created us in God’s own image. I continue to challenge myself to see the image of God in every person I encounter, no matter how different they may look to me or beliefs they have that are different from ones I hold.
Individually, we may not be able to make right all that is wrong, we may not be able to make whole all that is broken, we may not be able to end all that divides us in our country and our world. However, we can be a part of the solution rather than the problem. We can make a difference in our personal relationships and encounters with others; we can make a difference in our neighborhood and our community. Friends, let us treat others as we would have them treat us, let us love one another as God loves us and let us see God in the face of everyone with whom we cross paths.