A fundamental principle of our nature as humans is a desire to be treated fairly. What parent hasn’t heard their child complain, “That isn’t fair.” We have individuals whose whole life is devoted to framing laws that set out the boundaries of acceptable behavior in order that no individual will be treated unfairly. We have problems when individuals or groups differ in their definition of what is fair or choose to ignore the concept.
Throughout history individuals and groups have found ways to rationalize their ignoring of this principle. They or society have wronged me. so I am justified in taking revenge upon them. “It is only fair that they pay for what they done.” All too often such action leads to never ending cycle of attack and counter attack as each side is certain that the other is not being fair in their response.
Religion proclaims that there is a better way then demanding that we be treated fairly. A way of life that can put an end to an endless cycle of the attack and counterattack of revenge. A way of life that embraces the need to love one another. In the teachings of Christianity, it is a love that accepts and reaches out to another not because they love you or somehow merit your love; it is a sheer act of will. It is a way of life that stems from a belief in the inherit value of every human being. It is a way of relating to another that is willing to consider their needs before one’s own. It is a way of life that can result in one being taken advantage of. But it is also a way of life that can touch the heart and soul of individuals and make them a better person.
It is a way of life that governed the life of that governed the life of those we hail as Saints. It is what motivated: Mother Theresa to reach out to those dying on the streets of Calcutta with no place to go. Martin Luther King to engage in the Civil Rights movement rooted in non-violent protest that changed the laws of our nation and touched the minds and hearts of many. Motivates churches to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, care for the sick, offer hope to those struggling with addiction, to care for the needy in countless ways.
God reaches out with such amazing love to all who will accept it, changing hearts, and enabling the recipient to share this amazing love with others. Check it out for yourself, talk to the leader of one of the faith communities in your area, experience that amazing love.
The Rev. David E. Smith is the pastor of the North Main Street United Methodist Church of Gloversville