“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?”
What if our greatest defense is our eagerness to do good? What if we were a people known for doing good without strings attached for anyone and everyone regardless of who they were, what they believed in, who they loved, where they were from?
If we were a people known for reaching out and putting the wellbeing of others before our own, I believe we would have fewer conversations about defense. If we looked at our neighbors and saw their needs and met them without them having to ask and without them having to pay us back, our charity would be a safeguard. If we chose to love even those people we don’t like, even those people who don’t like us, what new message would they hear?
I grow tired of protectionism. I weary of hearing about threats to my way of life. It isn’t that I don’t take them seriously, but I don’t think that building a fortress around ourselves and our families is the best way to eliminate those threats in the long-term. Maybe if my way of life is so threatened, then I need to look closely at my way of life and find out what I’m doing that is so baneful. I’m probably not loving enough. I’m probably not gracious enough. I’m probably selfish.
I’m definitely selfish.
But what if I wasn’t? What if as a group of friends, we became known for our charity? What if as a church, we were known for our love? What if our families, our friend-groups, our churches were so integral to our community in the love that they provide without strings attached that even those who disagree with our beliefs would be heartbroken to see us disappear.
What if we looked at the stereotypes of our communities, of our families, of our churches and decided they didn’t matter and that we were going to love anyway?
What if our country provided the tools for development that eradicates poverty, slavery, curable disease not with tanks and bombs but with educators, engineers, counselors who honor the existing culture and have no agenda other than seeing that no more people die from hunger or curable diseases? I’m not naïve enough to believe that the threat of force can just disappear overnight, but I do believe that if we don’t figure out a way to show love without bias, without strings attached, the threat of violence will become more and more a part of our narrative. Let’s start in our communities.
Who do you know that needs your love? What’s stopping you?
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” *All italics are from 1 Peter 3:13-15