Further, we, as a Church, have taken upon ourselves the motto of “Love Without Judgment.” And so, as the Lord has called us to love one another without exception, we must be present to all without judgment and accept all into our arms just as Jesus did in the story of the Lost Sheep. It is hard and sometimes seems an impossible act. But we know that nothing is impossible with the Lord at our side and that that is the depth of His love and must then be, the depth of our love for him found in our actions with one another.
We may dislike what others say and do, but and especially for us in the United States, we live in a free society where we pretty much do and say what we choose. That, however, should never take us away from the moral way of living as a Christian. We, as Christians, are not called to take the lower road, but rather that higher road of patience, love and compassion, along with God’s justice and tough love, when necessary and to do so without loving others as he wants us to love them. But we know that all to often that way of living can and often will bring us into conflict with our personal and national and religious emotions.
And so, for us, the Christian, to eliminate people from being free to love their God and to misconstrue a whole philosophy because of a small but vocal and violent few is irresponsible and against our understanding of the message of Jesus.
Rev. Martin Niemoller put it best:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me –
And there was no one left to speak for me.”
All too often our human history has shown that when we omit to speak up and to act on an injustice, has brought us into greater suffering and injustice. Those who would want to make us feel that self-righteousness is okay because it’s about our survival as a people are those who may loudly proclaim to be God-fearing, but are, in reality, the anti-Christ that we have been constantly warned about.
John 17 shows us our Jesus, the Christ, praying to our Father recognizing that we, as His followers, are not “of this world” but are to live in this world. In other words, we are called to be like the sacrificial lamb who comes to bring the true message of our salvation and to lead others to the true Christ.
Be careful, then, of those who are in sheep clothing. We have too much violence and fear in our society today. And so it’s up to us, as the children of God and as his instruments today, to bring balance and hope to a society that is so bedeviled by to many wars and conflicts and people determined to divide us and destroy us.
But most of all, we’re called to be a people of peace. We are called to be the people of light, even when the darkness around us seems to permeate our lives. Jesus says to us: “You are the light of the world” [Matthew 5:14]. The only way we can be His light is to challenge, with his love, those who would like us to see things in a different light, and to live his message with his example of how to live.
Co-Adjutor Bishop, NCC
December 9, 2015