things jesus didn’t say #7 | other

10 06 2014

Now that all the furore over the European elections is dying down, it’s time to reflect on the idea of othering. I know this is a delicate area, but to listen to lots of people claiming to be followers of Jesus, or to speak for those who are, you’d think that Jesus had said “And the second greatest commandment is this: other your neighbour as you other yourself.”  thingsjesusdidntsay7otherHe didn’t, of course, he said “Love your neighbour as yourself”. He said that loving God with all your heart and believing your neighbour is as important as you is worship – more important worship than offerings and sacrifices. Despite politicians ramblings about us being a nation of tolerance, so many seem to be actually causing us to do the opposite: to label each other as ‘other’, as different. Which cannot be good. Whether we are pointing at those out of work, those with spare rooms, those who work in finance, those from Romania, those who are Muslims… the list goes on… we seem to be retreating into greenhouses and throwing stones. 

Jesus didn’t say the EU is a good idea, or that it isn’t. This isn’t about that. You can be anti-Europe, or Euro-sceptic, and still love your neighbour. To be against the corruption and interference of Europe does not equate with being racist; to be worried about immigration doesn’t equate with being racist; yet they seem to be being conflated, conjoined.

We as followers of Jesus should be prime examples of those who love and embrace our neighbour, because we are citizens of a kingdom in which Jesus is Lord; we must not be equated with those who ‘other’ each other, making differences between us our defining characteristics. We must not demonise, or let the media soften our resistance to demonisation, and we must not allow casual racism to become respectable again. 

Let’s be careful with our words, careful with our votes, and generous with our actions.

(And have a quiet giggle at the new UKIP local councillors as they realise they are dealing with suburban bin collections and dog poo, not mass immigration.)

 

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