Words by VLB

Love Your Neighbor

There is a lot going on in the world today. No one can deny the recent shifts in the national conversation regarding race. It’s been weighing heavy on my heart - I am sad and empathetic and moved and confused. But here is what I do know: I cannot stay silent. The fight for racial justice and equity is too important.


When I am overwhelmed, I need a compass to point me in the right direction. I need a source that I can trust as truth, something timeless and applicable in all situations. For me, that source is the Bible. So today, I’m going to use what I’ve studied in the Bible to share my heart on the racial injustice in our world. Even though these topics feel daunting to me, as a 21-year-old white woman, I know I cannot stay silent. These hard conversations must be had.


Before we go any further, I want to say: I believe Black Lives Matter. The Bible tells me that all people were intentionally created by God, in His image (Genesis 1:27). Because of this, I believe every single human life has unshakable value and purpose. However, in this time, when one racial community is hurting so deeply - I believe it is my duty to honor them by declaring Black Lives Matter.


In Isaiah 1:17, the Bible instructs me to “Learn to do right, seek justice, and defend the oppressed.” The past week has opened my eyes to the importance of educating myself, supporting those who have a different experience than me, and expanding my perspective. But, as a person of privilege, how do I ensure I take these steps in a way that is lasting and genuine?


To be honest, I’ve struggled to grasp how I can best support people who’ve lived an experience I’ll never fully understand. I want to show empathy and encouragement in a way that isn’t self-seeking. I want to make a lasting impact. So, I took these desires to the Bible and here’s what every verse pointed me back to.


Love.


Love. It’s that simple and that complicated. The word “love” is found 551 times in the NIV Bible. Love matters to God, so it should matter to us.


In Mark 12, someone asked Jesus for the most important commandment, and Jesus told us about love. We are called to love the Lord, and love our neighbors (Mark 12:28-31). This love has no exceptions or exemptions. We aren’t given permission to limit our love. Love is not just for the people who live in our neighborhood, or only for the people who look like us. We aren’t called to love only when it’s convenient. We are called to love, in the words of Bob Goff, “everybody, always.”


Love everybody, always. Not just when love comes naturally. Not just when we’re comfortable. Not just when we want to. Aways. We are called to love all people, in all places, at all times. In the book Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says it like this:


“Jesus talked to His friends a lot about how we should identify ourselves. He said it wouldn’t be what we said we believed or all the good we hoped to do someday. Nope, He said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people. It’s tempting to think there is more to it, but there’s not. Love isn’t something we fall into; love is someone we become.”


Love isn’t something we stumble into by accident. Love is intentional and authentic and it requires action. Love is your identity - so please, act like it.


So today, while my heart is hurting for those who have experienced injustice in ways I can’t understand, I will love them by standing with them. I will say, “I see you” and “I hear you” and “I am so sorry.” I will recognize that each and every person, no matter the color of their skin, was created in God’s image. I will remember that every single individual was created to do incredible things. I will use my gifts and resources to support the flourishing of all people.


I will educate myself and I will pray. I will pray for those who are experiencing injustice, and for those who are not yet aware of the systemic racism in the United States. I will pray for God to open my eyes to my neighbors who are hurting. I will ask God to show me how to love them like He does. All change starts with love.


Educate yourself on racial reconciliation : https://www.anniefdowns.com/blog/racial-reconciliation-resources/

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