There is no treason so odious to decency as indifference. Or as my friend, and mentor, Bob Goff puts it, “Don’t be mean, it makes mean people seem normal.” People, not weather, geography, or religious status are what make life bearable, or miserable. How we treat one another is the only barometer of our faith in action. We can choose to be kind, and if I’m allowed to borrow another cultural standard, let me quote a bumper sticker that ought to stop traffic, “Humankind, be both.”
This faith community we claim to be part of ought to ever be expanding, and where our roots are most likely to find healthy soil is in the lives of the oppressed, misunderstood, and shunned. Encouragement is the entire vocabulary of grace. “Never forget” is a phrase born from survivors of the Holocaust, and revived by survivors of 9/11. It’s Biblical counterpart may well be Romans 5:8, “But God showed His love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners.”
It is vital to realize the occasion of our birth only temporarily makes us different than our neighbors. James, the brother of Jesus, paints an apt portrait of our pride of place in the first chapter of his letter. James 1:11 “For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”
The helping hand we extend is the same hand that Jesus claimed held the very Kingdom of God. Of course He did issue this caveat, “Repent!” Webster defines repentance as seeking to change one’s life for the better. Followers of Jesus learn, by example, the best way to do that is becoming a servant of all. His Way is the Lifestyle of Hope. Each of us knows, without looking too far, who it is in our community that hungers for the compassion of consideration. And on those rare days when we forget who that may be, there hangs a mirror in the bathroom to remind us.