With the plethora of recent events it gave opportunity for me and my 15 year old son to have conversation and an exchange of views in the safe environment of our home. Regardless of the event we discussed, a common theme soon emerged in all of our dialogue and in voicing our different perspectives. The common thread had two tracts: One, how do you love people and two, how do you love America while loving and embracing the melting pot of people, cultures, and traditions that have now become a part of her DNA.
My son has been raised in a Christian home and goes to church, but he also attends a public school. I was interested in his insight. Not only is he a different generation from me, but his existence in a multicultural social and learning atmosphere has influenced him. His experiences are different from mine, as is his thinking. It became apparent that we might have been saying the same thing, but the “how” and “why” we came to our conclusions very much differed.
The big difference in discussion was the comparison of compassion and humanity verses love. Which brings me to the questions:
- What is love, and how do you show someone that you love them?
- Can you love without loving them unto salvation? Or in other words, is the greatest expression of love wanting to know that person has eternal life through knowing Jesus as Lord?
- In absence of their acceptance of Christ, what should be our response? How do we love those who are opposed to us in their beliefs?
For me, personally, as a Christian, this has been my greatest challenge. I have always thought salvation was the ultimate goal. It’s easy to love those who believe as you do, but how do you love those who do not accept what you value or live by your same morals or standards? Aren’t we to try in every possible way to not only reach them, but also teach them the Truth? Is compassion towards all humanity a false state of love without the recognition of Christ?
Truth has become subject by definition in America. What one has repeatedly been told or taught has become their truth. What one repeatedly hears can ingrain and become their truth. Truth, right or wrong, is what you believe; it is your known version of the truth. Truth can also be a thought pattern developed as reality in response to reoccurring circumstances. It is almost impossible to change another’s opinion; to change the heart is a different matter, and to know Truth, totally another.
While in discussion of current events, my son shared with me that many of his Hispanic classmates are fearful that their family members will get deported. My son being aware of where our President Elect stands on this issue, I asked him if he comforted his classmates by explaining not only the proposed plan, but also how in the end it would benefit them. His reply was that he had not spoken up. This is where I think love comes into play. When one side only sees intolerance, knowledge spoken in love is essential. This was a missed opportunity. Hearing one side without all the facts results in fear and panic. The truth is that many immigrants are here illegally. The truth is they want the American dream. The truth is that currently the immigration system does not work. Many have suffered because they have been stuck in the process, wrapped in red tape as no working governing system is in order to procure citizenship. Currently, it is mayhem, and it needs to be fixed. Citizenship will result in rights, privileges, and benefits. It is not really “land of the free” until those who want to live here can do so legally. Legally, they will have rights, be free, and not live in fear. I heard, “Bring them in as citizens, let’s unify as a nation.” Others heard, “Throw them out, keep them out.” The plan is actually inclusive, not excluding a minority. I believe it will bring healing to our nation. It will have a positive affect on attitude towards foreigners. To abide by our laws and to adopt our ways is not conformity, instead it is a matter of respect. It is a privilege and honor to live here, not a right, not an entitlement. We cannot take our liberties for granted.
I think too often, in our attempt at compassion, we omit knowledge and remain silent. Our desire to sympathize leaves them merely in the state they were in before. Although comforted, it does not invoke lasting change. We must show love, give hope, encourage, and share knowledge. I do believe that we have a duty as Christians and Americans to be informed and knowledgable. Ignorance only leads to death. There are many voices speaking in America today. When it is biased or portrays only one side, we must, as Christians, outshine and give equal voice to our side.
Sometimes we must wait for that open door to share Christ, which means being a friend, gaining trust, and proving ourselves in character. Love affords us the opportunity and the forum to introduce ourselves into their lives and welcome them into ours. Hate cannot do this. Hate closes doors. It ends discussions. Ends all dialogue. It opposes truth. It causes offenses.
And what happens after we have loved as best we could, but there is no heart change? We leave it in God’s hands.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
As to my son’s conclusions, I think perhaps his generation is keenly aware of our past mistakes and does not want to repeat them. He is not close-minded, instead he is very agreeable to listening and learning. He, as many his age, wants the courtesy of respect in his views, but welcomes ours as well. They don’t want to be told how to think, but rather want to receive all the information and then decide for themselves. Perhaps, too common, is that they receive only partial information, or information from the wrong sources. I believe there is value in what they think, and we have to give them credit for their hearts towards humanity. We must steer them, but not control them. It was surprising to me that his take on disagreement with anyone was seen as being judgmental, and having intolerance and hate, which implies he, and perhaps his generation, equates love as tolerance. The more we talked and explained our views, the more unified we came into agreement. Perhaps, we should all talk more with our children, and communicate in general with others.
Love for most has a continual learning curve. It is learning the difference between tolerance and intolerance; acceptance and disagreement; respect and irreverence; grace and entitlement; and compassion as opposed to aggressive persuasion.
I am not attempting to placate your opinions with my own. I hope to bring awareness or invoke questions that will guide us to understanding. America’s identity, at the core, must be rooted in love. To change hearts it must involve God. No one wants anything forced upon them. It causes them to feel violated and dominated. Love is where I think we all get tangled up with opposing views of how it is achieved. How to love seems to cause conflict or at least conflict in how we interpret and define it in action. Whether to love with the end goal of Christ or to love because of Christ is really all the same. We are all only planting seeds.
For God and Country and with love to all the people of this land,
Scripture considered in above article:
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man… (Matthew 15:19-20)
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. (Mark 3:25-27)
“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. (Hosea 4:6)
Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. (Matthew 15:8-9)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.
It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. (1 Peter 2:12-25)
When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? (I Corinthians 3:4)
Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. (Matthew 15:11)