In order to love others as God has loved us, we must meet others as God has met us...where we are, who we are, and as we are. This requires both Our heart And also Our eyes To be fully open.
1st Century Palestine in the time of Christ
But what about today?
Not sure who created this, but I do know that one man from Nazareth has brought us all together. He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God."
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
The Gospel According to John 1:45-51
Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
This is a solid question by a young man who most likely has only heard one side of a story about a town that many today still might regard with some ill feelings.
Why is that? Because some still see this area in Northern Israel, which is commonly referred to as the Arab capitol of Israel, as an undesirable location because of it's predominately Arab citizens (as of 2015 69% are Muslim and 30.9% Christian). I've never been here, but would welcome the opportunity to be sent there to walk the streets and meet the people.
In today's hotly debated political climate, Nathanael's question might not seem so out of place. Not at least for some 1st century Jews or a 21st century Christians. After all, "Those people don't look or sound like the nice folks in my hometown."
Because Jesus came from the wrong side of the tracks, as they would say in the south where I grew up, this soon-to-be disciple is tempted to dismiss him as a nobody. At best, he was a lower-class citizen that Nathanael didn't seem to give a second thought to.
It makes me wonder if we are guilty as well?
Today, might be tempted to judge and scrutinize Jesus too. His skin color and ethnic sounding voice might cause us to keep a little tighter, untrusting eye on him.
Do we fail to recognize God in people because of where they come from? Do we dismiss them, or walk pass them, or push them out because of where they were born, or how they grew up, or because we don't understand what language they speak? Are we too quick to judge people by such criteria as the color of their skin?
If so, how many times have we missed being in the presence of Christ because of our failure to recognize that God is in each one of us?
In order to love others as God has loved us, we must meet others as God has met us...where we are, who we are, and as we are. This requires both our heart and our eyes to be fully open.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one ..."