Love your neighbor

If I had told you a year ago that there would be no live sports for several months in 2020, you would

said, “You’re crazy!”

If I had told you the Hillsboro High School boys basketball team would be two wins away from potentially winning a state basketball championship only to see the tournament canceled, you might have said, “You’re dreaming.”

If I had told you the Hillsboro swimming pool would be closed for the summer of 2020, you might have thought, “You’re nuts!”

If I had told you there would be sporting events without spectators, you might have said sarcastically, “Yeah, right.”

Life in America is anything but normal or peaceful, and not just because of COVID-19. Pain, anger, and frustration that have been building for years were unleashed by a particularly vivid, senseless killing.

If you are among those in the minority, how do you respond when the rules are unfairly stacked against you? That has long been at the heart of black Americans’ frustrations and anger. So many things that white Americans can take for granted are denied to them, including the ability to take out a mortgage or buy a house, to walk along a sidewalk or drive down a street without being stopped, harassed, and possibly shot. That, not disrespect for the flag, was why Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem.

Professional sports don’t provide an oasis in the desert; not anymore. Sports are as political and complicated as the rest of life.

I still believe most police and those in law enforcement try to do the right thing, but they’re under more pressure than ever before. Often, they have to make a decision in a split second without time to consider all the ramifications, or they could be killed. Thanks to the clear abuse of authority in the killing of a man, all police are under the gun, no pun intended.

Racism is not a recent occurrence in America. In fact, we are hardly the only country with this problem. In fact, it has occurred throughout world history. Jesus even spoke on the subject in the parable of the Good Samaritan more than 2,000 years ago.

An expert in religious law knew he was to love his neighbor as himself. Trying to justify his actions, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

That led to the parable that challenged the religious expert’s assumptions. According to commentary in the Life Application Study Bible, a deep hatred existed between Jews and Samaritans. The Jews saw themselves as pure descendants of Abraham, while the Samaritans were a mixed race produced when Jews from the northern kingdom intermarried with other peoples after Israel’s exile.

From the story of the Good Samaritan we learn that (1) lack of love is often easy to justify; even though it is never right; (2) our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need; (3) love means acting to meet the person’s need. Wherever you live, needy people are close by. There is no good reason for refusing to help.

Unfortunately, we can’t expect a cure for the ills of racism in our lifetime, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to throw our hands in the air and give up. No, the proper response is to do what we can to make things right. We would be wise to start by following the advice that Jesus gave to the religious expert.

After telling the Good Samaritan parable, Jesus asked the religious expert, “Who showed mercy to the man who had been attacked?” The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”