I've been thinking a lot lately about how people who follow Jesus
are called to treat "the other"
people who look different from us.
The political language around this concept
can be downright frightening.
And it is easy to get confused.
But the Scriptures aren't confusing.
Listen to what Barbara Brown Taylor writes:
"According to Jonathan Sacks,
chief rabbi of Great Britain,
'the Hebrew Bible in one verse commands,
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,'
but in no fewer than 36 places commands us to
'love the stranger.'
Why should we do that?
Because we have been strangers ourselves, the Bible says.
Because if we have never been strangers,
then that is because we have never left home.
The people of Israel did leave home, repeatedly.
They knew what it was like to hear keys turning in locks and shutters being shut when they walked into a new town holding their thin children by the hand. They were used to knocking on the front door of the house with the 'Room for Rent' sign in the front yard and learning that the room had already been rented - always, no matter how many doors they knocked on - learning that the room had already been rented.
You shall love the stranger first of all because you know what it is to be a stranger yourself.
Second of all, you shall love the stranger because the stranger shows you God...
Why should we love the stranger?
Because God does."
(Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World)
That pretty much sums it up, folks.
How are followers of Jesus called to treat "the stranger" among us?