Wk 1: Neighbors of Different Faiths

I came across a tweet that inspired me to think beyond what I should give up this Lenten season. It challenged me to think beyond myself, and expand my view to those around me. What needed to be lifted up in order for Christ to be more central?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan, which I shared in an earlier post, is a reminder that Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, which means learning who they are.

The real life experience that inspired this blog series was unfortunate, but important to the lesson learned.

In the last two weeks, two Jewish cemeteries in two different cities have been vandalized. Both St. Louis and Philadelphia have experienced this awful display of hatred.

The thought that this has happened and why it has happened is horrifying to me and not what I want to discuss here. What I would rather lift up and put into perspective is the response.

How we respond when something horrible happens speaks higher volumes to me than the conversation surrounding the event itself. It is how a challenging or tragic event is responded to which reveals good character and attitude, and the call to the rest of us and our responsibility.

In both of these cases, when a Jewish cemetery was vandalized, Muslim & Christian neighbors responded. A quote from this article caught my eye when an individual was asked what her motives were in helping, “This is what our faith teaches us to do.”

While Muslims, Jews and Christians all have strikingly different views of Jesus and the central purposes of our faith, I think we can agree that we are called to serve others in response to the faith given to us.

Our Christian Holy Scripture shares many different passages that speak to acting out the faith in Jesus Christ, we have been freely given.

“12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” – John 13:12-17

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“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17

This real life event was a reminder to me that many of my neighbors are very different from me. But we all experience the hardships of life, and more often than not, undeserved displays of hate. As a Christian, I have the love of Jesus in my heart and the hope of knowing that the victory in Him has already been won. That hope I can share in my actions above all else, as a witness to Jesus Christ, praying that seeds will be planted and peace will be received.

17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:17-19

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