“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord…
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Leviticus 19:17-18,33-36
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.'” Mark 12:30-31
All humankind since Eden shares a common identity as image bearers, and a common slavery to sin. Only under God’s grace are we delivered. We’re common in struggles, hurts, illnesses, the strains of life under the curse. Sadly, in times when differences are highlighted and opposing opinions inflated at front and center, it can be difficult to even want to look for commonalities with those we deem ‘different’ from us. But there are many. God’s love overrides and undergirds the variations in His creatures. Each bears that mark of the Divine, and we would do well to discover, uncover, and appreciate the individual glories of those around us. That’s when love begins to bloom. (Genesis 1:27; 3:1-7,14-19; Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:23)
We tend to prefer and gather with like-minded people, and certainly rich fellowship derives from shared faith. But different perspectives add color and depth to our understanding and broaden our hearts to God’s wider family. When we learn through listening and caring about backgrounds, hardships, and inherited mindsets, the grace that captivated us warms toward those whom we are now seeing in heavenly light. As we open ourselves to His sway, the Holy Spirit infuses us with God’s compassion for fellow humans. He transforms callousness to tenderness, unwillingness to expectancy. What a difference it could make, one household and neighborhood and workplace at a time, if we would only reach out and respond in the same love Christ lavishes on us.
How might we begin? What are our stumbling blocks to seeing ourselves and others as common criminals before God, but for His amazing grace? Are we too puffed up, unforgiving, catty, stubborn? What if we set aside differences and probed for ways we think alike, enjoy alike, hurt alike, struggle alike? How might we sow seeds of kindness, lofty thinking, gratitude, and camaraderie in the human condition to open the conduit of gospel love? (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Lord, so captivate me with Your amazing love that I cannot help but love others in Your name. Open avenues of commonality that we might grow closer to You together and glorify You along the way.