In no universe is anti-Semitism, racism or all the other “isms” that categorize human beings for the purposes of exclusion and persecution acceptable.
When God created the world, the Bible does not say, “On the fifth day, God created this race” and “On the sixth day, God created another.”
The Bible says God created humankind – period. God created human beings in the image of God – that is, with the capacity to be known and loved by God and to know and love God and others.
Though the Bible has been used selectively, and perniciously, by some to support and promote anti-Semitism and racism, as well as the oppression of women, the LGBT community and others, the whole witness of Scripture is one of liberation and inclusion.
The way Jesus treated women broke barriers and convention. The makeup of the church put together by the Spirit as revealed in the Book of Acts included persons of all kinds.
An informed reading of the names of the persons Paul cites in his letters as partners in the faith is astounding.
It is clear that God decided to create a beautiful world of complexity among humanity.
We have taken far too long to read and follow the mind of God when it comes to loving one another – and to living by the truth that “God so loved the (whole) world” and that Christ died for all of us, not just some.
Likewise, there is no reading of Scripture to justify or endorse violence against other persons because of who God created them to be.
To endorse violence against others – whether it be in the context of families, communities or the institutions we depend on in order to build a safe and just world – is not only unacceptable but, as persons of faith, it is also a betrayal of the crucified God we claim to follow and who dwells in us as the body of Christ called to make God’s love visible.
As disciples of Jesus, let us commit ourselves each day to pray that God will use us as salt and light in a world that has far too many dark places, places that reside in every human heart, to some measure.
If you want the world to be a good place, you need to live to your best to be a good person.
If you want the world to be a loving place, you need to live to your best to be a loving person.
If you want the world to be a trusting place, you need to live to your best to be trustworthy and trusting.
If you want the world to be an honest place, you need to live to your best to be an honest person.
If you want the world to be a healing place, you need to live to your best to be honest about your own brokenness and need for others.
If you want the world to be a friendly place, you need to live to your best to be a friend worth having.
If you want the world to be whole, gracious and united, you need to live to your best to be open, graceful and willing to accept others as children of God.
If you want the world to be a safe place, you need to live to your best to be a person who stands up for justice for those who cannot stand up for themselves, as well as for those who can, because it makes a difference in heart and soul when we stand together.
If you want the world to value forgiveness and reconciliation, you need to live to your best to be a forgiving person, which means, in part, being willing to face up to and admit when you have been wrong and asking to be forgiven yourself.
If you want to be the kind of leader God honors, you need to live to your best to be a person who serves, who can lead not with power but with authority based on integrity and love for God and others; narcissism is the antithesis of true leadership.
Your world will become how you see it, how you think it, how you live it, defined by your courage, humility and the power of God’s cross-shaped love resident and alive in you.
Let us be those who are willing to speak the words of mercy and justice, and to act in ways that give witness to the world of our allegiance to the love of God, which is our surest defense and greatest consolation.
Pastor of Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia.