This past weekend, I had an interesting experience. A man I know to be one of the kindest, most generous, faithful and humble human beings, posted a horribly negative comment against our incoming government officials who are of the Muslim faith. I joined my daughter in righteous anger over his comments. How could someone who claims to be a devout Christian, and otherwise a good, kind and generous man believe such horrible things of our Muslim brothers and sisters? I was angry, but beyond the anger, I felt horribly sad. How could this man, for whom I otherwise have the utmost respect, believe that his hatred and fear of Muslims is any way shape or form consistent with Jesus’ teachings? I wanted to step in and ask him if he had read the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) – a story Jesus used to teach us that often the kindest and most “Godly” acts are performed by those who are not of our “tribe” or “belief system.” I also wanted to quote the story of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) who was instrumental in converting Jesus of his own beliefs – who through her persistence and insistence convinced Jesus that he was here for the whole world – not just the tribes of Israel. I refrained from commenting, but I still found myself troubled. So I brought this quandary to prayer.
This is when my compassion stepped in. My friend, in his fear and hatred of Muslims is simply believing what he has been taught by the version of Christianity to which he subscribes – a version cloaked in the same fear of “the other” that he already carried in his mind. To me, this is very sad. And yet, this man, like every single human being walking this planet, is a vessel of Love just waiting to be found. Quite simply, he hasn’t yet found the fullness of his Love – the Love he already is and was made to be, but which is currently hidden beneath a curtain of fear. He freely and generously loves those who believe as he does and in his working profession, generously loves those in need of his service. But, because he doesn’t yet know the fullness of the Love that he is and he hasn’t yet discovered the fullness of Divine love, he is not yet able to love every human being in the way that God does. Here he is bearing out Jesus’ most profound and simplest teaching:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31
This scripture has most often been interpreted as a commandment, but it could just as easily be taken as an observation of what is true. We are only capable of loving our neighbor to the extent that we love ourselves. Put another way, the degree to which we are able to love other human beings is proportionate to the degree to which we believe in God’s love for us, and the degree to which we are able to love ourselves as God loves us. This is a plain and simple human truth. My friend is unable to love his Muslim brothers and sisters because for some reason he does not yet comprehend the vast and unconditional nature of God’s love and in this, is also unable to unconditionally love himself. He still has more love in him waiting to be found.
The same is true of all of us. Each and every one of us is Love waiting to be found. And each and every one of us is somewhere along the continuum of finding and then living from that love. Our actions on this human plane then reflect the degree to which we know the love that we are.
This brings me to the topic of evil….
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