Loving the God in Others

Christmas
December 27, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host! 

Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!

 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed. –Psalm 148:1-6

God created every human in God’s image. People use the Bible as their reference source to justify all kinds of bigotry and hate of others, but we can not explain away the understanding that God created every human in God’s image. When we hate or degrade any other human, we hate God. And, yes, that includes the bigots and discriminators.

How do we retrain ourselves to see the image of God in everyone and respect them for it? Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II answered that question way back in 1951 with their musical that eventually became the movie, The King and I. One of the songs, Getting to Know You, tells us all we need to know.

Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you
Getting to hope you like me *

First, we need to see people that we clump together as groups as individuals. Second, we must work to interact with people of different backgrounds, colors, cultures, and religions. Many of us live in places where most of the population is very similar to us. I grew up in a farming community that was as homogenous as the milk we produced and sold. My paternal grandfather’s first wife was Native American, and I thus had several aunts and uncles who were Native American. Seeing Native Americans as individuals was my normal, although later in my life  I did learn the hard way that different tribes have different cultures.

I remember the first African American I ever met. My mom was attending a college class required to get her Oklahoma teaching license. She took me with her to visit college one day and introduced me to a fellow student she had met in the class who was a rich shade of chocolate. I was six and probably stared at her, but she was gracious and said nice things to me in a moment that set the stage for my attitude about African Americans for the rest of my life.

As a child welfare worker, I had a greater challenge learning to love abusive parents. They often were abused children also. Some were mentally ill including addicts, people, most of us do not want to get to know. It is amazing the changes experiencing the love of God through others can make in even the most damaged people. Remember the story of Legion in both Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39? Jesus restored him to wholeness.

Prayer: God, of love, help us to see others as you see them. Help us to love those we at first consider unlovable. Amen

One part of the song, Getting to Know You see at https://www.google.com/search?ei=5UVBWtPZDKaN0wLh0q3IDw&q=getting+to+know+you+lyrics&oq=getting+to+know+you+lyrics&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0l8.359851.363527.0.365241.7.3.0.4.4.0.241.501.0j2j1.3.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.7.583…0i67k1j0i20i264k1.0.Ltx8VNGCbZo

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

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