It’s no secret that we adopted our kids. Claire was adopted in Wichita, Kansas, and although there’s Korean blood in her gene pool somewhere upstream, she’s Caucasian, and looks it.
I can remember that during the first few years of her life, every once in a while someone would find out she was adopted and would respond with a comment something like, “Wow. I never would have known. It’s so great that she looks so much like you.”
It always caught me off-guard, because I hadn’t ever thought that was anything to even be concerned about. I promise that the first thing that went across my mind when I heard that was, “Why is that great?” To be real honest, I wouldn’t have cared if she’d been purple – she was my daughter! And Nick sure doesn’t look much like us – he’s half-Hispanic and half-black! Does that mean it’s not “so great” because he doesn’t look like us?!
That’s just one probably very innocent example of ways we draw lines in our culture today. We tend to group up based on who looks alike. Racial issues continue to divide people and neighborhoods and countries.
Of course there are so many other ways we draw lines and build walls…
We group up based on geography… “National pride” or “Team spirit” can be fine, but they can also get out of hand if we look down on those who aren’t part of our country or cheering for our team.
We exclude and divide theologically too. Did you know that there are over 41,000 Christian denominations in our world today?! Many times we are so concerned with the differences between theological groups that we fail to see all of the similarities and points of agreement.
We also tend to divide ourselves based on social class or status. We judge each other by what we wear or how we talk or what kind of car we drive. We tend to ‘rank’ ourselves in relation to others, looking down on those whom we deem as ‘less than.’
Why do we have these unfounded discriminations? Why do we tend toward division? I think one main reason is that we don’t understand. We haven’t lived their lives, been in their culture, heard and seen the things they have. But, you know, it’s more than that – many times we don’t want to understand. And it is very easy to criticize those that we don’t take the time to understand.
God doesn’t see us according to what divides us. Over and over Scripture points out God’s lack of discrimination…
Job 34:19 “He doesn’t care how great a person may be, and he doesn’t pay any more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all.”
Ephesians 6:9 “And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.”
Romans 2:10-11 “But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”
Acts 10:34 “Then Peter replied, “‘I see very clearly that God doesn’t show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.’”
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
When we use generalizations about an ethnic group…or people from another place…or another faith community or social class. We’re not showing God’s character. It’s sin, plan and simple. And when we don’t attempt to get to know others in order to prove our generalizations wrong, we’re just as guilty!
I’ve mentioned 4 types of discrimination here – there are certainly many more! But whatever the discrimination, the solution is the same. It’s LOVE. It’s a personal, selfless love that takes the time to get to know someone, that lifts another out of the gutter and does all that it can to heal wounds. Love tears down walls. Love extends a hand, steps across the space between. When we say at our church that “We live to love people to life,” we mean all people. Not just the ones who are like us.
See, although we have many differences (ethnicity, theology, geography, social status), we really all have the same story: we all are sinners in need of the grace of a loving God. The same God that created and loves me created and loves the inner-city gang member and the people at the church across town and the beggar on the corner. He loves them, in spite of their faults and failings, just like He loves me in spite of mine.
This Monday is Martin Luther King Day. I intend to honor his memory and his work against discrimination by, among other things, attending a community church service (7:00pm at St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church). I also intend, with God’s help and direction, to live every day letting God’s love flow through me, even to…especially to those whom I might be inclined to ignore or mistreat.
I’m going to live to love all people to life!
Will you join me?