I got the nudge to write this some time ago but I have been putting it off. It’s one thing to say that I am going to plunge into the taboo zone and quite another to actually go there. But here I find myself, sitting at my computer and typing…
One subject that has come up lately is the subject of religious freedoms in America. It is a truly wonderful thing to be guaranteed the “free exercise” of our religion by the First Amendment but there is some debate on what exactly that means. I have always understood that each of our rights end when exercising them then infringes on the rights of others. It’s perfectly fine for me to have my faith but I cannot force you to abide by it as well. This is one of the most fundamental reasons that those first settlers came to find a new land and establish a new country.
At this point in time, there are many Christians who want to be able to deny business services to certain people because they say it violates their beliefs to do so. There are other Christians who don’t want to provide certain medical services to their employees, again, because it violates their beliefs. As a fellow Christian, I would beg to differ. As Christians, we are called to simply love God and love others, all others, regardless of whether they share our beliefs or practices. We ourselves have been given free will, the ability to choose whether or not to accept God and the Bible, so how is it that we would feel the need to deny this choice to others? I would argue that we all want to be granted the right to choose for ourselves how to live, and to discriminate against anyone in business would be anything but loving.
When Jesus walked on this earth, he hung out with the ones in society that the religious people of the day would not have been caught dead with, quite literally. The lowest of the low-lifes, the outcast and the downtrodden, those were the people that Jesus associated with. These folks were certainly not following God’s laws or living pure lives, yet never did he tell someone that serving them violated his beliefs, never did he try to control what choices they had or what they did. He just loved them and treated them with respect, and by doing so he gained their trust and was able to teach them about God.
Never did he force himself or his ways on anyone. When he did have harsh words and anger, it was actually for those who were following the rules and acting as if that made them somehow better than others. We are supposed to be emulators of Jesus’ life, so how can it be that we would try to control others or force them to abide by some rules we feel they have to follow? Why would we not serve them wherever they are with love and respect?
Jesus did not consider his rights to be more important than others, but instead he actually gave up his rights to help all of humanity, to sacrifice himself out of love, not because we followed the rules or because we deserved it. If we are to truly follow his lead, we should also be humbly and lovingly serving people, offering them whatever help we can, not because they are following some set of rules but because this is how we share the love of Christ.