Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers.
Everyday, I wake up to a world that has fallen farther than I ever thought it would go.
And I can't help but think, "how did we get here?"
Yesterday it was bathrooms. Today it is statues.
What will it be tomorrow? Another man anointed ideal that only brings tears.
This may be the most important thing I ever write, so bear with me. I also write this knowing that some who will read this won't get it. It's my prayer that logic and an attempt to understand each other will intervene and we can find answers.
Almost a year ago, with a few friends, I helped found a non-profit called Loving as Jesus in Truth, also known as LAJIT. There were several motivating factors behind starting this non-profit, but for me, it was a chance to reach out into a world of turmoil. LAJIT was formed in October, right in the thick of election season, and you can see the world unravel at the thought of either major party candidate becoming President. Those who leaned right screamed something about emails, abortions, and Benghazi. Those who leaned left screamed something about sexual assaults and generally being unfit for the job. And inside, I simply screamed.
This post isn't about politics. And it's about everything involving politics. One of those classic "it is, but it isn't" type of scenarios. Full disclosure: I didn't vote for either major party candidate. I did my research, and found a candidate that represented my values and voted for them. Wrote them in, actually. Regardless of what people tell you, there's more than two choices. And I wish more people would realize that just because there is a (D) or an (R) behind their name does not mean they are the only people to vote for. In fact, I wish about 62 million more people would realize that. But that's neither here nor there; I only disclose this information so you are aware that I do not have any ties to either party, so you don't have to make assumptions on where I stand on issues based on my political party, because, unlike many will tell you, God hasn't joined a political party, and neither will I.
Instead, this post is about human decency. This post is about the world we know it, but at the same time, it's about each of us as individuals.
It starts with a simple question: can we agree on the fact that as humans, there is something definitely wrong with us? This has nothing to do with religion, and perhaps everything to do with religion. Regardless of your beliefs, can't we put all of that aside and understand that we are messed up?
That leads me to my next question, and here is where it all falls apart: What are you doing to make things right?
I was and am tired of the hatred going around for our fellow man. I wanted to be a part of LAJIT so I can reach out to a world and show love. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to be a part of a non-profit to do that, but I wanted there to be a movement. We started the Hope Community Kitchen, where once a month, regardless of gender, race, social economic status, age, anyone can have a free meal. We wanted to bring people in and meet them, talk with them. We wanted a place where we could sit down with people in our community and share our stories. Share our battle scars. Our dreams. Our lives. How we got to where we are. What we want to see done in our community. And for the most eight months, we have done that. I've gotten to know people that I would never have met before. I've sat down with people who work in different industries. I've sat down with people who have a different skin color than mine. I've sat down with people who look differently than me.
And for most of our conversations that we have - I listen. I let them do the talking. Because this movement isn't about getting my story out there. Sure, I'll share it if I'm asked, but I want to hear everyone else's story.
I've had my eyes opened.
It's amazing what you can learn if you are just willing to listen.
Truth is, we haven't been willing to listen for a long time. If they don't look like us, or vote like us, then their opinions are invalid. That's how many people see the world now.
How did we get here?
In the past week, I've seen more people who are Christians post and retweet articles or opinions on statues than I have on Jesus. I've seen more people who say they are looking for peace do more and more to divide people than bring them together. I've seen people blasting Trump, and I've seen people responding with something about Obama. I've seen people defending Trump, and I've seen people disgusted with him. I've seen "what-about-ism" in full force. I've seen every Facebook historian give their two cents on the Civil War, confederate flags, and confederate monuments and why - or why not - we should do this or that.
I'm tired of it. And I can't help but wonder how we got here. Because we weren't here ten years ago - were we?
So I go to the Bible. I find the words of Christ. I'll share them here: the two greatest commandments.
Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I really think it's that simple. We got here because we haven't been doing that.
Can I speak truthfully here? Until a few months ago, I had no idea confederate statues were a thing. I've never had an opinion on them. Now that I know about them, I still don't really care about them.
But the thing about the statues is that it's not about statues. It's about something dividing us. And for whatever reason, we as a people are so messed up that we will let this - and more things - divide us.
The larger point being - let's stop looking for things to divide us. We are more worried about honoring our ancestors than we are about honoring God. Stop posting articles that lead to division. Stop retweeting people who only look to separate us. Instead, do you part and show love and compassion to the world. Honor God by honoring his commandments.
Why can't we just love God and love each other?