We like those like us
As people we like to feel comfortable, don’t we? And in our desire for comfort, we are drawn to those who look like us, dress like us, talk like us, enjoy similar music as we do, and so on.
This is how it has been for a long time. There becomes this culture of necessitating protection for “my people” against “those people.” We fight for this, and somewhere along the line, we turn “those people” into something not human.
The easy example for this would be The Holocaust, or Apartheid. But it becomes too easy when we only talk about other countries and about their problems. What about us? What about our country? What about you and me?
We could talk about the Civil Rights movement and about the early days with slavery.
We could talk about, even further back, the ways in which early settlers treated the Native Americans.
But that is also too easy. That pushes off responsibility on our forefathers, or our ancestors. It wasn’t our fault, was it?
How are we treating those different than us today?
All it takes is 5 minutes on any news station and we begin to read and hear stories of how people treat others who are different than themselves.
In College, I knew a police officer (who didn’t participate in this practice) who was taught, unofficially, to racially profile minorities- specifically African-Americans and Latinos.
I come from a city that is incredibly divided by race and economic status. It is so bad that BBC, the British news network, even did an investigative story based on one specific street- Delmar- that divides millionaires from slums. 40 feet of street. That’s it.
This feeling of racial superiority, mistrust, or resentment is everywhere.
As someone who is new to Napa, while writing this sermon, I spent some time reading the racial history of this city…it’s as broken as anywhere. There were KKK ralleys attended by thousands, as well as the burning of Napa Valley china towns.
There is a thread that so easily weaves through the minds, hearts, and words of everyone, and those words speak a dark lie.
This lie is rarely named, but it’s influence can be found throughout our past, our present, and threatens our future.
This lie whispers in our ear when we look at people who are different than us, who speak differently than us, and who believe differently than us. It tells us we can’t trust them. It tells us that they aren’t quite human. That they aren’t worth quite as much as you are me.
We watch them have babies with disgust, and wonder why they can’t control themselves.
They speak in their native tongue, and wonder why they can’t learn our language.
They apply for government programs and we immediately assume they are leaches on the system.
Their lives, the worth and their humanity becomes tied up in how they are different than you or me.
It isn’t only to protect Israel
God’s anger at the care of foreigners wasn’t limited only to when nations abused his people.
You can see his frustration and anger rise when Israel, generations later, choose to repeat history and systematically abuse and neglect those who “aren’t from around here.”
We see, over and over, for us to care for those who are different. When they are free, God reminds Israel to care for the foreigner because they, too, were foreigners once.
He tells them that if a foreigner resides among you then they must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
God is telling Israel. Live differently. Love everyone because they are my creation just as you are my creation.