Step Toward Others in Love, Even If They Hate You For It
By Beth Demme
I was going to title this, “Why I’m Choosing Sides and Praying for Nazis,” but I was afraid you wouldn’t read it. I am, however, choosing a side.
I choose humanity.
And I am praying for the Nazis, White Supremacists, Alt-Right, and all those who spew hatred and who want to divide our country. I pray the hatred within them is erased. I pray their hardened hearts will be softened. I pray God will take the pain they’ve been taught to inflict, and thrive on, and render it powerless.
I pray for them with a sense of sympathy and sadness, knowing they’ve allowed themselves to be manipulated.
The lie they’ve been told is an old, old lie.
Maybe it’s more accurate to call it a set of lies. The first lie is that the world is made up of two groups, “us” and “them.” The second lie is that if they have more, we will have less. The third lie is that if we have less than them, we are worth less than them; we are worthless.
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus erasing the line between “us” and “them.” Jesus shows us there is no “other,” there is only humanity.
Look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
A lawyer asks Jesus to define who the man’s neighbors are. Jesus tells a story where the hero of the story is a Samaritan, a religious “other.” (Luke 10:25-37) In Jesus’ day, the Samaritans were despised because they didn’t worship Yhwh the right way. They also weren’t ethnically “pure,” having intermarried with Assyrians generations and generations before.
Jesus says the actions of a person (like the Good Samaritan) matter, not their ethnicity.
When a non-Jewish woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter, the disciples tell Jesus to send her away, but Jesus doesn’t. (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30) Instead, he has a conversation with her. He is moved by her faith and he heals her daughter.
Her faith mattered to Jesus, not her ethnicity.
Why? Because we are all one humanity:
God has given us an identity that transcends biology, economics, or politics. We have been created in the imago Dei (“image of God”), redeemed in Jesus Christ, and incorporated into the body of Christ. As creatures made in the divine image by grace, human beings have been gifted with infinite worth, dignity, and destiny. Our identity lies in the One to whom we belong and in whose image we are made, not in how we look, what we know, or what we can do. (Kenneth L. Carder)
Our identity is not in our skin color, our ethnicity, or where we are born. Our identity is not in the economics of how much (or how little) we have.
This is one of the revolutionary, world-changing, ideas of Christianity. We reject that old, old set of lies.
We ground our identity in The One who made us, The One who loves us, instead of what the world says defines us.
In the Methodist church when we do a Baptism, the pastor asks the person being baptized or the adult with them:
- Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
- Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
- Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
The pastor then turns to the congregation and asks, simply, “Do you?”
The church is made up of all nations, all ethnicities, all socioeconomic levels. We are united not by “blood and soil” (as the Nazis chanted in Charlottesville) but by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who has enough love to go around.
For that reason, I reject those old, old lies the White Supremacists feed upon. I want more for them than the hatred they spew. I pray they find healing and I pray, please Lord, protect those in their path.
What about you? In the face of hatred, how do you pray? Do you agree that the White Supremacists are being manipulated by old, old lies? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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