Our youngest son, Jamin, started law school at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., this week. Terry and I helped him move things for his apartment.
The plan was to stay a couple of days to help him get situated, and also to attend a brief professionalism conference hosted by the law school for parents and students.
Terry and I checked into a local motel. The next morning I went to the lobby to check out the motel’s breakfast offering. The lady working the breakfast bar is a chatty person, and it was not long before she engaged me in conversation as she puttered in the area doing her work. We chatted at length. Some of it was light-hearted, part of it was more sober. As I left, I thanked her for her good breakfast preparations and friendly conversation. I shook her hand (I’m a Baptist preacher … I shake hands with a lot of people).
I was early checking out the breakfast bar again the next morning. The same lady was there. Being the chatty person she is, she once again engaged me in friendly conversation. As I once again extended my hand to shake hers before leaving, she said, “You are one of the kindest white people I have ever been around. Most white people I have met over the years have given me the impression that they think I don’t count much.”
I spontaneously pulled this black lady up and gave her a snug hug.
As I walked back to my room, I thought to myself, “Dear God! What have we done?”
What the lady told me is so indicative of what so many have done to races and classes of people in the past, and the same is still going on in the present. So many have made so many others feel as though their lives have no value. And, in the process, there have been multitudes of mistreatments directed to others.
It is no wonder why the races and classes of people are so irritated with each other. We have thumbed our noses and looked down our noses and turned our noses to our fellow man of races and classes to the extent that hate bubbles in many hearts and violence is frequently exposed. The social and racial problems of our day are not God’s fault, either. It is the consequence of what we have done. For sure, God has taught us better than that.
Remember from the Bible the Good Samaritan story told by Jesus? A Samaritan took time and made effort to assist a Jew who was badly beaten. Jews hated the people of the Samaria region because of their mixed heritage, and Samaritans hated the Jews for hating them. It provided for a fierce prejudice between the peoples. But, this specific Samaritan ably looked beyond the racial concerns of the day and saw a fellow human being instead of just a despised Jew.
While there are several things to be said about the Lord’s account, we must see at least one important part of the overall lesson He taught. He taught that each of us have the responsibility to treat each other with the love of God that surpasses any consideration we may have involving race or class.
After all, the Lord exemplified it. The Lord loves all races and classes of people the same. The Lord died for the same. He gives salvation for the same. He gives the same hope of eternity in Heaven.
It is important to point out that, in relating to other people, God’s standards for righteous character are still important for us to maintain. God’s standards for righteous living are still important for us to uphold. God’s standards for obedience to the expectations of His revealed will are still important for us to consider. In other words, it is not right to give people a moral or spiritual pass as it involves critical spiritual expectations, hiding behind cliché that “God is love.”
But, color or class should not incite any of us to attitudinally mistreat people.
The people of the Church should advocate more proactively a stronger Bible-based treatment of people founded upon the attitude of God.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.