I give my pastor, Steve Eden, credit for the inspiration for this blog. In his Sunday sermon he spoke of being the best American we can be to everyone we meet; being the American we would want to meet, despite our current divisive political climate. I noticed three things when he said this: 1) He believed what he was saying. 2) He was practicing this in his daily life, and 3) He admitted to the divisiveness of this country which many will not do, especially in Christendom. It was a call to be good people and to be Jesus in a very down to earth, practical, every-day way. He coupled this with making it very clear that Jesus, not Donald Trump or any political party, was the answer for the divisiveness of America. He has said this on more than one occasion in the last several months. I can’t speak for the impact it made on others this past Sunday, but I can tell you about the impact it made on me.
I have been thinking about this non-stop. Being Jesus to others as Americans or otherwise, transcends political, racial, and social boundaries. Jesus was not a political party favorite. The Romans crucified him, and the Pharisees hated him. Jesus lifted up the downtrodden and the forgotten. Jesus scandalously ate with tax collectors, “sinners”, and others the society of the time called “undesirable” or “dirty.” (Matthew 9 and Luke 19). He was not a lover of injustice or greed (see the story of the temple in Matthew 21). Jesus even had the unmitigated gall to go against patriarchal culture (in more than one instance) and speak with a woman by himself at a well that on one else would have spoken to (John 4). He allowed women to go against their culture and sit and listen at his feet instead of serving men (Luke 10). He forgave a woman publicly for everything she had done wrong, in front of men and Pharisees alike (John 8). One of Jesus’ descendants was madam named Rahab (Joshua 2). Jesus was not just good, he was compassionate and met people where they were, not where he thought they should be (Mark 5). What if we as Americans could conduct ourselves in the same way? Meet people where they are? Listen to what they have to say? Meet injustice head on? Go against the culture to be love to a hurting person or maybe even be a friend to someone that the rest of the culture says does not deserve it? How different would America be right now? How different would our leaders be? Why is it that we pursue political favor in Christendom today? If Jesus did not wish to play favorites, why do some of our church leaders? What exactly is the motive? I ask you to think on these questions. I ask you to look at your own motives as a Christian as I have had to examine mine.
For my part, Jesus is in me so he has given me the power to be the best American I can be in treating others with fairness and most of all to love them. He has given me the power to meet them where they are and to listen to them to understand. Note I didn’t say I had to agree or see it their way, but I can listen to understand and empathize. He has given me the power to stand against injustice in our society and I will do so, no matter what that injustice looks like. He has given me the power to befriend those that society labels as “undesirable” or “dirty.” This is what being the best American I can be to others means to me. I don’t care if they are citizens or non-citizens. I don’t care if they are men, women, boys or girls. I don’t care if they are gay, straight, bisexual or transgender. I don’t care if they are Black, White, Latino or Asian. I can treat them with respect, dignity and humanity. I can be Jesus to them and that means putting aside what I think something should look like or feel like and seeing through their eyes with His eyes. I am ready to help America heal just as Jesus healed others. I am ready to love America just like Jesus loved others. I am ready to stand up to the injustice that is in America just as Jesus stood up against injustice in His day. I am ready to see with His eyes and hear with His heart.
Fellow Americans, I will be the best American I can be to all of you, both in person and in my writing. I will embody these principles in the best way I can every day. I may not always hit the mark, that is why I need accountability. I will do the best for my part that you will allow me to do. Let us do unto others as we would have done to us with love, humility and integrity once again in this nation and beyond.