“I don’t want my children using public buses to get to school because it might mean they have to sit next to kids that go to government schools.”
“I need to mix with people more like myself.”
“I’m not sure that I want that type of child near my children.”
My heart just breaks when I hear these kinds of statements.
Hearts filled with fear…
Hearts not familiar with the power and the wonder of a love that is so powerful…
People possibly concerned with loving acts as opposed to becoming loving people, able to give love’s warm embrace to anyone.
A people who can embrace and accept all of humanity and not need to pass judgement.
I love the story of the Samaritan woman offering hospitality to Jesus.
Whenever hospitality happens the healing embrace begins.
There’s a little verse in that text that tells me that Jesus’ disciples weren’t that different to the voices that have been clamouring in my ears over the past 12 months.
“Just then the disciples came. They were astonished that he ( Jesus ) was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or “Why are you speaking with her?” John 4:27
Jesus’ presence silenced prejudice, and pre judgement.
They couldn’t utter those words that they otherwise would have uttered in Jesus’ presence.
Words related to her sex…
Words related to her race…
Her morality that was no doubt scandalous and deserving of moral outrage was not questioned in the presence of Jesus by the disciples.
Jesus gave the gift of acceptance and friendship long before he began to address morality.
His presence silenced the hearts of the disciples.
Judgement and contempt couldn’t find their way into the public arena.
His love silenced the ingrained sexism, classism, racism and selective moral outrage.
As I read this story I wonder…
Are we as Christians close enough to Jesus’ presence to have our contempt and judgement for humanity silenced?
Are we close enough to Jesus that in our presence contempt and judgement can’t find their voice in the world in which we live?
Am I close enough to Jesus to have my prejudices silenced.
Am I close enough to Jesus to silence the prejudices of others.
For it to not find voice.
For us to see that love provides another way.
I’m not really sure what is gripping the hearts of so many of my Christian friends but it’s not love. Love casts out all fear, silences prejudice and judgment and allows us to give a warm embrace. I am aware that in saying this I have my own prejudice and contempt to work through towards the ones that utter prejudice and contempt. The ones whose values and beliefs are different to my own.
I need to love those whose hearts are filled with fear.
So I know I need more.
I need more of his presence.
It was his presence that silenced the ugly, the contempt, the prejudice.
“So much of religion is noisy, we are an organized bunch of people crashing through the world together, making so much noise that there’s not a soul in sight.” Ruth Hayley Barton
Maybe our souls, my soul need a little more one on one time with Jesus. Maybe the contempt, the fear, the prejudice, the bothers of the world would disappear as we came a little closer to love, enabling us to see other.
That’s why I love breaking bread and wine. Having people over for a meal.
At the table as I sit and listen to people’s story I find that their story is not that different to mine. I often find myself saying, “You too!” Sometimes their moral struggle has a different name to mine but so often I simply see my own soul broken and messy reflected in the person sitting across the table from me.
I don’t know what all the answers are to this problem that seems to be increasing but I think some it of it might begin at the table… being with Jesus and allowing his presence to silence our contempt and judgment for one another, replacing fear with love’s warm embrace.