Treating Each Other Better

Ultimately, how we treat others speaks loudly about our love for Christ.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

In ethics class, we are taught that ethics is simply a matter of determining right from wrong. The trick lies in how we decide what is right or wrong. As a Christian, my belief system is clear. What’s right and wrong and how I am to treat others is spelled out for me in black and white. There is no real way to confuse “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NIV).

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Demeaning someone because of their race or ethnicity or whatever is flat out wrong. Racism is a sinful scourge tarnishing our history as a people. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that ALL life is created by God and  EVERY human life has value in the eyes of the Lord. One race was not created superior over another. Red, yellow, black, or white—we’re all equal in God’s eyes. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul reminds us, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us, apart from Christ, are perfect. Yet, God loves us, even in our broken and fallen state. The Lord delights in us, especially when we delight in Him.

Genesis 1:27-28 The Message (MSG)

26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
        reflecting our nature
    So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
        the birds in the air, the cattle,
    And, yes, Earth itself,
        and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
    God created human beings;
        he created them godlike,
    Reflecting God’s nature.
        He created them male and female.
    God blessed them:
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
    Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
        for every living thing that moveon the face of Earth.”

We long ago denounced the wickedness of slavery and decades ago defeated the evil ideology of Nazism. They have no place in our society. Yet, they continue to exist. Each time they raise their ugly heads, we must denounce them.  

We must treat each other better. 

Treating each other better is rooted in being humble and kind. Hatred and racism cannot exist in the presence of a humble and kind heart. Humility and kindness help us recognize we aren’t superior to one another. Humility and kindness lead us to treat each other better. 

“Humble And Kind”
(written by Lori McKenna)

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key’s under the mat
When childhood stars shine,
Always stay humble and kindGo to church ’cause your mamma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be wasted time
Always stay humble and kindHold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kindDon’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why:
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kindKnow the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
“I love you” ain’t no pick-up line
So always stay humble and kindHold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kindWhen it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kindDon’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Today, people all around the globe are ensnared in human trafficking and forced labor. In the U.S. and other developed countries, human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, impacts an estimated one-third to one-half of all homeless youth under the age of 18.  If you watch porn or support the porn industry, you support human slavery. Did you know that? Porn is something that exists in the shadows and that is practiced in the darkness. Most of us don’t watch porn at work or at church or at the family dinner table. Yet, we all know it’s there. Porn hides in our midst. Just like racism. 

Yes, we’ve made a ton of progress since Abraham Lincoln proclaimed emancipation and Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream. Even in their time, the Founding Fathers recognized that ALL people were created equal. Mired in an economy dependent on slave labor, they recognized they still had a long way to go to make that a reality. Truth is, while much progress has been made, there is still much more to do. We’re not there yet. 

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Today, many people are frustrated by a system that seems too slow to change. Some see it as a time  to dish out old lies of the past, somehow trying to convince sane and reasonable people that one person’s skin tone is better than another. The events of Charlottesville this past weekend call us to do better. We must.

We need to start treating each other better. No one has a monopoly on love and respect.

Tim McGraw “Humble and Kind”

As a Christian and a Christ-imitator, I cannot denounce the hatred wrought by racism loudly enough. Jesus loved me while I was yet a sinner. God granted me grace and mercy when I did not deserve it. For me to think that somehow the color of my skin raises me above someone else is vile and foolhardy.  Brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to treat each other this way.  We cannot continue to make it a black thing or a white thing or a brown thing. Taking pride in our ethnicity and our culture is one thing; allowing our arrogance to divide us is another.  God loves you, just like God loves me. He loves you if you’re white. He loves you if you’re brown. He loves you if you’re black. More importantly, God forgives us, regardless of our race, ethnicity, gender, or national origin. When we believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation and ask God for His forgiveness, He does so joyfully, delighting in us, just as we are. It is really that simple.

Without forgiveness, we will find it difficult to move forward. The time has come to let our love for Christ speak clearly through how we treat one another. I am only one person unable to change the world alone. But, I can change that small portion of the world I’m in.  So can you; I believe you will. Godspeed. Go in peace. Love one another as Christ first loved you.

Prayer:

Father, we love you and shout your praises! Let us walk more humbly today, and love others like Christ loved us. Father, through your Son, Jesus, we know what love is and we know what forgiveness is. We can do better, but we need you to help us supernaturally overcome the evils of racism and slavery that besiege us. Forgive us for our sins and shortcomings. Help us reflect the love that you have shown us through your Son,  Jesus Christ and by your Spirit. Lift us up from the depths of darkness into the light. Help us see what we do not see, help us know what we do not know. Help us be kinder to one another and treat each other with a respect that can only come from knowing you and your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com. Edited with Pixlr.

Topsy Turvy

Mom and I crammed into the small doctor’s office. A wheelchair makes any room seem smaller. Mom waited patiently in the corner where the physician’s aid had set her. Rolling in and out of rooms has its share of challenges. A wheelchair quickly makes you realize how ill-equipped we are in our day-to-day life to accommodate the four-wheel monstrosity.

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The nurse came in to check Mom’s vitals. She greeted Mom first, with a friendly hello and a warm smile. She turned to me and nodded, “How do you do? Are you the caretaker?”

“No,” I replied. “I’m her son.”

The nurse smiled. “Then you’re her caretaker.” She and Mom both chuckled.

Caretaker?

Honestly, I really hadn’t contemplated my role in Mom’s recovery much. I’m her only son. She lives alone. She fell and virtually shattered her ankle and now needs someone to look after her while she heals. It hadn’t occurred to me to answer the question life asked any other way. It’s simply what you do.

My wife, Sweet T and I are just both grateful that we can pull this off. It’s not easy and certainly not without sacrifice. But it’s probably hardest on my Mom who can’t get around on her own and do basic things that she’s accustomed to doing. If you know my Mom, she’s a social butterfly. Particularly since my Dad died. She took care of Dad for the last five years of his life after he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage brought on by a stroke. It limited her ability to live a “normal” life. She’s been a bright spot in the lives of others since God called Dad home.

top·sy-tur·vy

adv.

1. With the top downward and the bottom up; upside-down.
2. In or into a state of utter disorder or confusion: “turning our ordered life topsy-turvy” (Anne Tyler).
adj.top·sy-tur·vi·er, top·sy-tur·vi·est
1. Turned or positioned upside down; inverted.
2. Confused or disordered.
n. pl.top·sy-tur·vies
The quality or condition of being topsy-turvy.  
topsy-turvy. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved August 11 2017 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/topsy-turvy

You don’t realize until you are faced with taking care of another human being just how many things you take for granted. You certainly can’t anticipate the drastic change to your routine that it brings. Add a little distance between you and your home base and you discover new challenges. It takes commitment and a strong relationship with your spouse. It helps having your in-laws living next door.  And it demands more than you alone can give. It takes a whole village of friends and church family…including a sea of doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers. Hopefully, when it happens–and odds are it will—you’re prayed up, because you’re going to draw heavily on your spiritual bank account.

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Mom continues making progress every day since her fall three weeks ago. We’ve been thankful for friends and church family who have stopped by to see her, write cards, and give her a phone call. Terri’s folks have been tremendous in helping cover the home front. Technology helps close the gap between here and home, which is something Terri and I are both thankful for as well. In the old days, we would have had to make a fire and send smoke signals.

On top of it all, we had to say goodbye to our beloved 16-year old healer, Danny, as he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Although we knew his time on Earth was drawing to a close, it is still deeply painful. Like I’ve said before–life is downright hard sometimes. But, that’s what God is for.

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Leaning on the Lord in difficult times, depending on God to give us strength, to heal our hurts and our wounds–these are the moments that we can draw closer to Him Who Made Us. Apart from faith, I couldn’t do it.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Philippians 4:19 The Message

Whitney Houston, 1998  “God Will Take Care of You”