Advent and Loving Like Jesus Loved Now
As we enter into the Advent season we look to the coming of Jesus, the Lord of Love. We celebrate the One who was sent because “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). In his loving way, Jesus certainly cared for his own Jewish people – but he also respectfully put the Gentiles and Samaritans in positive light, never doing anything that would encourage suspicion or hostility.
A man in Florida who was planning a deadly attack on a mosque was arrested this week. Last week the President sent out an anti-Muslim tweet from an extremist group containing videos clearly intended to generate fear and hatred of people of this faith. The two events are connected. Hate-mongering has an effect. It leads to destructive action. And it should be condemned as evil without hesitation.
I realize some people want to hear about Jesus without bringing his message to bear on the events in our world. But to do that trivializes Jesus and the meaning of his life and words. We end up left with sentimentality without discipleship. We need to be serious about the words of our Lord that we repeat at the end of each worship service, “As I have loved you, so you must love…” (John 13:34). If we are truly disciples of Jesus we will love Muslims as Jesus has loved us, and we will speak out against fear-mongering.
Fact! You are much more likely to be killed by a toddler, a lightning strike, or an alligator than to be killed by a Muslim refugee. Fact! The violent crime rate among Muslim immigrants – and all immigrants – is lower than that of the general population in our country. Fact! There is no evidence that Muslim citizens in America commit more murders than the general population. Further, no one from the nations the President has targeted for his travel ban have been a source of terror activity in the U.S. To suggest otherwise is to engage in malicious lying.
The key question for those of us who seek to follow Jesus is always, “How do I love like Jesus here and now in view of what is going on in the world?” We can’t love like Jesus in a bubble that includes only those near and dear to us. We cannot be silent about the bigotry and loveless scapegoating of Muslims that comes from politicians, pundits and some of our neighbors. Silence is complicity. Silence is not an expression of loving like Jesus.
As we look to the coming of Jesus during this Advent season, let’s commit ourselves anew to loving like Jesus.
Grace and Peace,