Author’s Note – my latest church newsletter subscription. Feel free to skip this if religion isn’t your thing. Won’t hurt my feelings any.
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted and keep a humble attitude. (1 Peter 8)
When terrorists attacked multiple venues in Paris on November 13th, the outpouring of support on social media was instantaneous – people began changing their Facebook profile pictures to the French tricolor and #JeSuisParis and various graphics admonishing the world to “pray for France” quickly trended on Twitter. At the same time, the city of Beirut was reeling from a series of suicide bombings which killed dozens of people and wounded many more, but sadly, this traumatic event went largely unreported. The perceived lack of support for the Middle East eventually found a voice on social media and the citizens of Lebanon began questioning why their suffering was not as important as that of the victims of the French attacks. The only answer I could think of is that due to the frequency of extremist attacks in the Middle East, those of us in the west have become desensitized to it, and it takes unprecedented attacks on our allies to awaken us to the price of violence. Then I realized that is a completely unacceptable answer from a Christian perspective.
We are all made in God’s image and our relationship with each other directly reflects our relationship with God. In the book of Matthew, a Pharisee questioned Jesus about which of the myriad Jewish laws is the most important to follow, and Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind….and love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the law that surpasses any other and Leviticus 19:9 reminds us of its importance: “Owe no man anything but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (KJV).
When we love each other, we love God, but who is our neighbor? The one who physically lives next door to us? Someone we know from work or school? Someone who thinks like we do? Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to teach us that our neighbor is whoever is in need, regardless of where they are from, the language they speak or the work they do. . We are not to make judgments about who is worthy of our love and who isn’t. We are simply to love others. That is the answer to the torment of those in France and Lebanon and countless other places around the world that know the darkest evil. When we live by God’s teachings, the world will not have to ask why some suffering is perceived differently than others. The world will know the blessings of God’s love .