Are you discouraged by the incivility and outright societal violence that seem to spring from perceived differences in race, gender, ethnicity, and beliefs? It’s disturbing that laws against “hate crimes” are necessary to in order to prosecute those who act out in aggressive and malicious ways towards their neighbors. It seems that, in American society, despite material wealth and advanced education, evidences of brotherly love and compassion are often lacking. My colleague, Ingrid Peschke, writing for the October 13, 2017 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, sites some encouraging programs that exemplify the words and parables of Jesus, who said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Here’s Ingrid:
When former inmate and skinhead gang member Michael Kent was assigned to an African-American probation officer, his life took an unexpected turn. His new officer didn’t judge him, but she encouraged him to surround himself with positive symbols, not hateful ones. “If she believes in the good in people, I know I can, too,” he said in an interview with ABC News. He now refers to her as “family,” and he has taken down the Nazi flag that hung in his living room. He’s also covered up the swastika tattoo that had been on his chest for more than 20 years.
I’d like to think his probation officer expressed the spirit of love that the Apostle Paul spoke of when he addressed the Romans, who were longtime persecutors of Christ Jesus’ followers. “Don’t just pretend to love others,” he said. “Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:9, 10, New Living Translation).
Paul’s words echo Jesus’ statement: “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12, NLT). To illustrate this idea, Jesus tells a story highlighting the kindness of a humble Samaritan who helped a Jew in great need, despite hundreds of years of hatred and intolerance between the Jews and Samaritans….