11 Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge. 12 But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge—the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12 (NET)
If we believe that people are created in God’s image, then we should not lie to make them look bad or to gain an advantage over them. It seems so obvious that I almost wonder why James has to say it. We cannot praise God, and yet slander those who are made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:16-17).
Unfortunately, new technological tools such as social media make it easier than ever to put people in a bad light. And it is especially disturbing to see Christians spreading messages suggesting that a group of people is either dangerous to our democracy or in some way less than human.
Jesus taught us that the Law and the prophets are summed up in two commands. Love the Lord your God. And love your neighbor as yourself. “Who is my neighbor?” an expert in the law asks Jesus (Luke 10:29). Jesus answers with a story—the story of a Samaritan who helped an injured man. Both a priest and a Levite had passed by the dying man. But it was the Samaritan who stopped. The hero of Jesus’ story is the stranger, the foreigner, the other. Jesus teaches that if we are to be righteous, we must follow the example of this stranger. Instead of slandering the other, we as Christ-followers are commanded to honor the other.
All human beings are created in God’s image, and the stories we tell about them matter. Is it possible for us as Christians to look at those who are different from us and see neighbors instead of enemies?
Hymn: “Cleanse me, search me, oh God”
Prayer suggestion: God, help me to honor people with my speech. Let me be the kind of person who stops what I’m doing to help those in need.
Published in Fall 2018 edition of Fruit of the Vine