When we take the time to care for people who are different than we are, we model the love of Christ.
Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise. Luke 10:36-37
Who is our neighbor? Jesus says our neighbors are those who are in need, especially the needy who are outcasts. Religious people may ignore a suffering race indifferently, or label a lifestyle as repulsive, but Jesus sees them with compassion. The individuals Jesus spent most of His time loving were the ones marginalized by those who felt spiritually superior. Ironically, the Good Samaritan loved someone who may not have returned his love.
Furthermore, when we take time to care for those who are different than we are, we model the love of Christ. It is easy to love those like us, but more difficult to love those from a different culture. We risk rejection from religious people who are too busy with programs that care only for their own kind. They reason, “We don’t have the time, money or interest to care for those of a different culture while our people still have needs.” However, love looks beyond its own kind and offers care!
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32
Racism is a raw nerve that requires intentional investment by those with influence. We all have opportunities to accept those who have been rejected, and to bring healing to those who have been hurt. Yes, those who have been robbed of equal rights need us to make things right through education, legislation and jobs. However, the quiet generosity and engagement of Jesus' followers is the most effective in affecting good in our society. The sufferings of those trapped in generational cycles of cynicism desperately need our compassion. Christians are called to care for strangers.
Who in your life has been beaten down by their circumstances and who needs you to lift them up? Who has been robbed of their rights? Is there someone you can represent as advocate for justice? Perhaps even for a season your generosity will give hope to someone who faces temporary setbacks. This may require you to get your hands dirty in dealing with their issues, because relationships are messy and complicated. Caring for strangers can lead them to love Christ, the ultimate caregiver!
I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. Job 29:16