I recently read something arresting in a blog called The Pagan Princesses. The writer, a pagan, wrote:
…the fact remains that we all of us [pagans] find inspiration in pre-Judeo-Christian gods. We all practice a faith focused on life and not on an afterlife.
The remark weighed on my heart because, though it should not be, that second sentence is too often true. Many who follow Christ seem to ignore what he actually did and said, and focus instead on blame and punishment, and conversion-or-exclusion, all in his name. Some of these folks are in our government, and this grows more frightening every day.
What are non-Christians to think when Christians act this way? How are they to recognize how off-base that behavior is if the rest of us keep silent? Why do we allow harshness and cruelty to supplant Jesus' teachings as if replacing the pages within a book but keeping its well-worn cover?
You'd think everyone's forgotten how to read.
According to the gospels, Christ was very attuned to nature, relished a good feast, loved his friends, healed the physically and psychically sick, sang hymns, and in every way constantly reminded his followers to care for and help each other in this life. On this earth, in these bodies, with these hands. Love your neighbor, he said, and then showed that everyone is a neighbor. Love, to him, was not a theory or a nice idea, or something to be strained to exclude the unworthy. It was an all-embracing action, and not an action to be delayed until the budget was balanced, either. Love, and the economy of love, will always be in the red in human terms, as red as Jesus' words in many editions of the Bible. But in God's accounting – or the balancing of the Universe, if those words ring more true for you – love overflows all measure and always will. That is the nature of God's love.
To the politicians and pundits who describe themselves as Christian, yet are now insisting on holding back disaster relief because it's "too expensive", I ask this: did our Lord Jesus Christ bill the people he healed? Did he check his funds, polls, or vacation plans before he got on that donkey to ride into Jerusalem?
It's time, and long past time, to take "love your neighbor" seriously. Until we all do, I don't see how we can face what we see in the mirror every day, because if I am indeed created in God's image along with everybody else, then I should be seeing God in the mirror, and in every face I see.
To the woman who wrote the passage I quoted at the beginning of this post, and to all my readers, I am deeply sorry for the havoc wrought in Jesus' name, and for the meanness.