We’ve seen global terrorism rise, human trafficking continue, and economies rise and fall and totally collapse. We’ve seen genocide, civil wars and foreign wars, refugees board overcrowded boats that capsize at sea, and children wash up on the shores of Greece and even our own borders. We’ve seen gun violence overtake our schools and homes and streets and malls and movie theaters and churches. Racism continues to infect minds and hearts, and hate still kills. The world is in crisis today . . . and still we look to our left and right and ask ourselves, How do I live in this mess? What is my role?
We need to go back to Jesus’ words: love God and love your neighbor.
Just love. It’s the answer to everything—all our hurts, problems, divides. So why is it so hard to do? Why is the command to love so easily overlooked? How do we justify our tendency to respond instead with judgment, hate, discrimination, or even apathy? How do we get it so wrong? The clue lies right there in the verse, as we’re called to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Loving our neighbor as ourselves is so much more than just asking, in any given situation, What would I want in this scenario? We know precisely what we’d want, because we have walked around in our own skin our entire lives. We know our own hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, and hurts intimately. We know what touches our hearts, and we also know how to erect walls to keep out the pain. We’ve walked a lifetime in our own shoes. But loving our neighbor as ourselves requires a barefoot moment, a vulnerable stepping out of the known into the unknown so we can walk around for a while in someone else’s sneakers. To truly understand what it is they want, need, hope for, feel and, therefore, how to love them in that.
Empathy. That’s the often-overlooked key to it all. As we get to know each other, see one another, and hear one another, one person at a time we will one day find our way back to love.