One of the proudest parts of my life after being a husband, father and pastor is being an educator. I currently serve as a physical education teacher while also serving in ministry. It causes me, however to live in an interesting duality because the population I serve in education is 99 percent Hispanic. As I've watched the recent events in our country unfold specifically with regard to the immigration issue, the Muslim ban, and the day without immigrants, it has caused me some inner turmoil. To see the faces of students who are afraid because they're unsure of their family’s future or sad because a family member was picked up the night before, or even seeing the school empty because of a day without immigrants is totally disheartening from a personal perspective and disappointing as a follower of Christ. It is most imperative to make the distinction between being a confessing Christian and being a follower of Christ. Jesus himself said in Matthew 7: 21 "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Only those who do the will of God and follow the teachings and examples of Christ are followers of Christ.
With the establishment of that basis we find that Christ taught that we should love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. He pressed this issue further by telling us in the Good Samaritan parable that neighbors have nothing to do with proximity or nationality, but everything to do with common humanity. He later pushed the notion forward by saying in Matthew 25 that he was a foreigner. He told us that it is righteous action to help and support the least and left out which includes immigrants, homeless, sick and prisoners. It is with this ethic that we should seek to show True Hospitality.
What does it say for a country where many claim this to be a Christian nation, yet we have pulled away from our Christian ethic? Where the holy book of that faith says God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control, yet we do not display self-control. We show moral weakness, hate, and make decision based of fear. Therefore, out of fear we lose sight of the ethic of hospitality and love because we are afraid of something that most likely won't happen. The true essence of love in the original sense that Christ taught of meant putting another person's needs before your own. Dr. King once said, "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." In order to actually love people, we must be willing to attain some level of understanding. When we approach anything out of blind ideologies, preconceived notions and uniformed prejudices we are bound to make the mistake of hate.
Though this is not a Christian nation and is a place of shared belief systems one universal theme permeates all of them and that is love. Though we are not ignorant enough to think that these are absent of fanaticism, we also cannot live and base our thoughts on the few. We must do our best to, in the words of State Farm, be "like a good neighbor" and be there to show our hearts to those who need it. In the words of Eldridge Cleaver, one of the earliest members of and minister of information for the Black Panther Party for self-defense. In terms of love, “It takes time and deeds, and this involves trust, it involves making ourselves vulnerable to each other…to become sitting ducks for each other----and if one of the ducks is shamming, then the sincere duck will pay in pain---but the deceitful duck, I feel, will be the loser.” This week, be a winner and consider opening your heart to someone different; that shares nothing in common with your except their human existence and show divine love. Do good, DO NO HARM and stay in love with the divine.
Rev. E. Chip Owens is a graduate of the Gammon Theological Seminary on the Historic Campus of the Interdenominational Theological Center. He has served as a Senior Pastor in the Covington Area. He is a well sought after preacher and Author that has had the pleasure of sharing the gospel nationwide.