My heart is heavy.  In the past week, I’ve seen things on the news that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.  I’ve seen innocent people hurt, tear gassed, and killed.  I’ve seen riots, violent clashes, and people in agony, both physical and psychological.  Our nation is fractured along racial and political lines.  People are tired, feel very little hope, and are angry on every side of the dividing line.  There is so much anger.

The experts say that we shouldn’t look at this time that we’re going through like a time of war, but I disagree.  We are at war, and our enemy, Satan, is going a great job sowing seeds of hatred and despair throughout our country.  Satan is pulling out all the stops right now, attacking the very moral fabric of this country and its people.  Before I go any further, I want to say that this is not a political post.  Yes, I have strong political opinions about the current state of our country but voicing those opinions will do nothing to help heal the rift that exists in our country.  Yes, there is a political element to the current unrest, but overhauling our political system isn’t the answer.  I believe that there is a much more fundamental problem in this country, and until we intentionally work toward fixing that, nothing will change.

We have forgotten how to love one another.  It’s that simple.  As a nation, collectively, we have forgotten that love is the answer.  We have forgotten that each and every person on this planet is one of God’s children and that God feels unflinching, unconditional love for all of us.  We have forgotten to how to practice that love, how to treat each other like the image bearers of God.  If I look at each person that I come across as a child of God, holy because God is holy, I am much less likely to strike out in anger at that person. It doesn’t matter what I’ve heard about that person, what kind of mood that they’re in, or if their politics don’t align with mine, or if they’re black, brown, yellow, red or white.  It doesn’t matter if I like that person.  It doesn’t even matter if that person is an atheist or agnostic or a completely different religion.  We must approach that person in love.

 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Love is the greatest commandment.  In order to love God with all of our hearts, we must also love each other, God’s image bearers.  We must each do a thorough and unflinchingly honest inventory of our beliefs and confront our prejudices – we all have them.  We must put those things that we have used to define us behind us and live under one label – Child of God. 

This week, I ask you to be honest with yourself.  What are your prejudices?  Pray that God would open your eyes to them. When you approach a person who is a minority, of a different political belief, of a different religion, or who is different from you in any way, do you do so openly with love or do you hold negative opinions about them based on their label? Are there people that you dislike even before you meet them?  Is there a group (eg., welfare recipients, addicts, people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, people born in a different generation than you) that you hold preconceived notions of or that you find yourself in judgement of?

Until we confront our prejudices our country will remain fractured.  But if we learn to live in honest, uncompromising love we can come out of this dark time as a people united under God, stronger in purpose, no longer divided but whole.  Vow to let God’s sacrificial love be your guide.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8).