Brotherly Love

How do we as Christians love our neighbor that may not have a voice due to injustice or death? In Matthew 22:36 the Pharisee asks Jesus, “Teacher, what is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus’ answer quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Taking care of your neighbor is pretty important to God, since six of the Ten Commandments are written to give us guidelines on how we should treat our neighbors and the other four commandments are written to tell us how to worship God. The following six commandments give us guidelines for loving our neighbor:

V. Honor your father and your mother.
VI. Thou shall not murder.
VII. Thou shall not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shall not steal.
IX. Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
X. Thou shall covet your neighbor’s housewife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

We have a presidential election around the corner with many candidates already campaigning at full throttle for your vote. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters, who cannot stand for themselves due to injustice? There were two cases over the past two years where the community came around to support two groups of young men who were accused of crimes, which would have resulted in long prison sentences.

The first case took place at Duke University, where the Lacrosse team was accused of raping a stripper and the second group of young men were being charged with attempted murder in Jena, Louisiana for some acts of stupidity. Both of these cases would have never happened if these two groups of young men were treating their neighbor the way the Bible says we should. We have to be beyond treating our neighbors wrong, because of their race, ethnicity, language or their physical disabilities. We have to remember we all bleed the same color blood, “Red Blood.” “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

It is also very saddening that it takes disasters before our fellow human beings will show their brotherly love. God says we should always have love toward one another. When September 11, 2001 took place we were a nation in mourning. People sent cards, teddy bears, monetary donations, donated their time to help with cleanup, and many other things to help their neighbors during this devastating time. Once again it was not our government who comforted the hearts of American citizens during one of the worst natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina. Our government systems failed horribly, but our churches and our fellow brethren poured out their hearts by sending much-needed items, and some opened their homes to their brethren who had lost everything. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV).

One of the most unappreciated ways for representing your fellow citizens and making change is your ability to go to the polls and cast your vote for things you agree with and a vote against things you oppose. Many people feel their vote does not count and is ineffective. We can use some past events, such as the 2000 presidential elections in the United States of America; the popular vote (which is the vote of the people) chose Democratic nominee Al Gore for President, but the Republican nominee George W. Bush won office due to an overwhelming vote from the Electoral College. The Electoral College was invented to break ties if one should ever occur during a presidential election and they are supposed to uphold the nominee who was chosen by their state’s popular vote. Does our vote really count? Truly we cannot think like that, we have to think of all the people who died, fighting to give us the right to vote.

There are many excuses we can make for withdrawing from the world. You can pray before you vote because we have no outstanding candidates for the 2008 presidential election; for example, we have some who believe in God and abortion, some who abhor abortion, some who flip-flop on the issues, and so on. Just choose the one that comes closest to your values. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and God appoints the authorities that exist. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers is not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

“Love thy neighbor” is not as hard as it looks on the surface. It simply means respecting others and regarding their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own. We humans make the simplest things so complicated! “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 NKJV). There are many things we can do to help those who cannot help themselves; we just have to set some time aside and do what we can for others. “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:21 NKJV). If you do not get anything from this article, just understand we can all do the simplest thing in the world: treat others the same way we expect to be treated! If we did just that, how many of our worldly conflicts would be resolved?