June 4

by Warren Finch

As we read in God’s word:

Matthew 22:37 (RSV)

[37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

Romans 13:9 (RSV)

[9] The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [10] Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 John 4:19 (RSV)

[19] We love, because he first loved us. [20] If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. [21] And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.

I, along with several of my friends in law enforcement, past and present, were totally disgusted with what took place in Minneapolis the other day.  It was a demonstration of how the actions of a few can impact many.  What took place was not done with love or even concern of others.  Sadly, in this broken world there is too much hate, greed, selfishness.  We, as Christians, are supposed to be “above” this.  However, we are human.  It is difficult for us to live in this world, without being a part of this world, but that is exactly what we are called to do.  We have laws that we are to obey, both laws of man and laws of God.  It is hard to know all the laws that were given to Moses, more than 10, and all the laws of man and try to keep our sanity.  Jesus made it simple for us.  His answer to the Pharisees did not change the laws given but simplified them for us.  His first statement tells us that we are to love God, period.  We are not to have any other gods before us (money, celebrities, sports figures, stuff, etc.).  His second statement covers all the laws of our behavior towards others.  Think about it.  If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not do anything that would offend or harm him/her.  

The passage from 1 John is very convicting to me as a Christian.  If we say that we love God and then treat our neighbor as was done in Minneapolis we are liars.   We might think that we should just live our lives, then, without mistreating others and not associate with people who do not think like us.  When we are told to love our neighbors, that does not mean we should ignore them.  I do not believe it is possible to love someone without knowing something about them.  We do not necessarily have to invite everyone into our home, but we need to treat others as if we would.  Having worked in law enforcement for many years, there were times that it was difficult to maintain a non-judgmental, unbiased attitude.  We were expected to look at the person as an individual that had problems that we were trying to solve regardless of who they were.  God calls us to love this person.  If we remind ourselves that we are called to love our neighbor, not necessarily agree with them, we will go a long way in treating others as we want to be treated.  One other thing that God said we were to do is love our enemies.  That does not give us much wiggle room to make excuses for how we treat each other.

Lord, we ask you to give us the strength to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This is exceedingly difficult for us as human beings, so we need your strength.  We pray that you comfort the family and friends of George Floyd.  We ask for protection of those on the front lines during this time.  We ask you to help guide our leaders at all levels to have the wisdom in handling the protests, the guidance to give us regarding the virus and how to help keep us safe.  We ask for your guidance in how we should prepare in getting back together when it is safe to do so.  Keep us safe and help us to remember that you are Lord of all.  These things we pray in Jesus name.  Amen

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