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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : religion : religion August 15, 2020

6/14/2020 3:16:00 PM
Don't Hate Your Neighbor
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith
Guest Columnist

Right now, our country is divided, and it is difficult to talk about anything important without risking an argument with a friend or loved one. Politics, religion, racial justice, the environment, the economy, the up-coming election, and COVID 19 all are risky subjects. Those who dare to talk to others about these things will easily find many points of disagreement. We think they are wrong, and they think we are wrong.

The easy solution is talk to and spend time with people who think, look, and act just like you do. As we draw our wagons into circles with like-minded people, the divisions between us become more profound. This “us” vs. “them” mentality builds bitter walls of hate between us. Hate may seem like a strong word, but it means to intensely dislike someone, and if we are honest, we have to admit that some of us hate our neighbor because we intensely dislike them for disagreeing with us on the definition of our problems and/or their solutions.

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We know that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor but what does it mean to hate your neighbor and how can we stop? Within the context of recent events, hating our neighbor means that we lump people together and judge them based on the color of their skin, where they live, who they love, their background, their political views, what news channel they watch, and who they associate with in life. Hating your neighbor starts when we stop seeing people as individuals because we have already made up our minds about them based on experience with other people that we think are like them.

The walls between us are real, but for God’s people we know that they are man-made and must come down. For example, the idea of “race” and superiority or inferiority based on skin color is a man-made concept because we are all members of the same race – the human race. Our skin color is based on the amount of melanin that is in our skin. Light skinned people have little melanin. Dark skinned people have a lot more. Under our skin biologically we are the same. The despicable history of racism in our world is built on a lie and causes people to hate their neighbor just for looking different. Black people do not all think alike and neither do all white people. People are individuals and deserve a chance to speak for themselves about who they are and what they believe. Jesus said that we should treat people the way we want to be treated in Matthew 7:12

“2 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

As God’s people, we need to put our differences together and get out of the problem into the solution. If we want people to understand our truth, we need to listen to theirs too as hard as that can be at times. We might have a revelation and learn something we didn’t know. Don’t hate your neighbor – seek to understand him and look for ways to bring unity rather than division because we are all in this together on the third rock from the sun.

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr.

Rev. Smith is Associate Pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church www.exodusmissionaryoutreachchurch and can be reached at 828-962-8196,  or P.O. Box 3311 Hickory, NC 28603.

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