Reflection #10: It’s Hard to Love Those we Don’t know / A.J. Hendry

Reading: Luke 10

“You must… Love your neighbor as yourself.”

When Jesus is asked to interpret the Law, He responds by instructing his listener’s to Love God, and to Love ones nieghbour. When asked who is our neighbor, Jesus shares the story of a man who was excluded, rejected, and marginalized, and of another, who chose to risk His own life, to move into that person’s space, in order to Love and serve them.

Reflecting on this story I am struck by how hard it is to be a neighbor to someone that we do not know. How hard it is to Love someone who we haven’t taken the time to build a relationship with.

If we are called to follow the Way of Love by serving and Loving those our society has made poor, vulnerable, and marginalized, than at the very least we must know who those people are.

What – within dominant Christian culture – would change if the Church was really the Church of the poor? If Christian Community was really a safe haven for the oppressed? If the community of Jesus was really the space where the margins were removed, and the excluded where able to find a home?

My expierence of the dominant expression of the Church in Aotearoa is that it is very straight, very white, and very middle classes.

We call ourselves whānau, but really there is so much separation in our church communities. If the poor were our whānau, if we were friends with the homeless, would we so easily relegate the Divine’s cry for Justice to an “important” side project of “the church”?

Or, would we find creative ways to feed the hungry, and house the homeless amoungst us because it is our little nephews who are hungry, or perhaps our own Grandmother who is living on the streets?

If we truly Loved and honoured tangata whenua, and created space for their voices within our community, would honouring Te Tiriti not become a priority of our gathering, and naming and tearing down systemic racism in our midst not a vital part of our purpose?

If we had genuine relationships with our Queer whānau, and took time to listen and understand their pain, would we not set about urgently to finding a path to eleviate their suffering?

The fact that the church is not the natural home of those our society has marginalized and oppressed, is proof that we have a ways to go before we truly learn what it means to Love our neighbor as we Love ourselves.

A.J. Hendry

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