May 2010


I spent most of my childhood living in the “country” with practically no neighbors. I now live in almost the center of Wichita. Having neighbors has been an interesting experience for Ben and myself.

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and being and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Love your neighbor in the very same way you pamper, advocate for, and defend your own life. This seems pretty clear.

But, who is my neighbor? Could it refer to the people who we meet throughout our day? Does it literally mean the people in my neighborhood? What about the students in my classroom? Are they my neighbors? What about all the people who I just don’t like? Are they my neighbors? Or is it something more than all these?

My initial answer is that everyone I encounter is my neighbor, but with that my conclusion must be that I surely don’t love all these as I should. I fall short of the kind of love Jesus proclaimed every single day. There are students I don’t love at all. There are people I work with that I don’t think of as my neighbor. There are even people who I go to church with that I don’t like one bit and we are supposed to be “family”.

Our culture says love yourself because if you don’t, no one else will. Jesus says, because I have loved you so deeply when you were thoroughly unlovely, go out and love others in the same way.

Now that’s a love dare….

They are everywhere. Categories, groupings, stereo-types, classes. Black. white, latino, male, female, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, gay, straight, poor, wealthy, young, old, christian, hindu, muslim, jew, buddhist… Do you see where I am going? In order to maintain large amounts of data in our brains we have adapted methods to sort and categorize all kinds of things, but especially people. It’s a natural thought process.

But we are smarter than this. The world does not exist in the neat manila folders in which we would like to keep it. People are not always what you think. My students prove this every single day.

Turn on your televisions and you can see the disastrous consequences of closed minded “code word” labels we like to use to scare and threaten. Historically words like Jew, Nigger, Catholic, Fairy, and Communist have been used to evoke fear, resentment, and anger in the United States. What words, today, evoke those same feelings? Think about this for a minute.

Jesus dined with the worst labels in His day; prostitutes, gamblers, and tax collectors. He rebuked the pharisees for attempting to stone an adulterous woman, without examining their own deserved sin labels.
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All this to say, look outside of your preconceived categories. Listen to what people are trying to say. Dialog to gain understanding. Work hard to withhold your natural groupings. For us to be God’s kingdom we must try harder than ever to get past political, social,and economic status to let our minds be stretched. In the days to come I pray to God for strength to see people as He wants me to see them. I will pray for you too.

Reading other people’s blogs makes me feel kind of like a stalker… However, I have some how¬†overcome this feeling and now I do enjoy reading people’s thoughts, seeing what they are up to, and hearing their recommendations on books, food, fashion, and any number of other things.

My favorite is www.tablegrace.net . Sara Jane is a woman who grew up in my hometown and now lives in Dayton, OH. She is married with 2 kids, works part time as a Physicians assistant, and blogs a lot. She is smart and witty, and has a southern voice that comes through in all she writes.

I have also started reading the blog http://smittenkitchen.com/.¬†I haven’t cooked very many things from this site, but I like how she writes and the photography is lovely. I want to try her recipe for home-made pop-tarts. They look wonderful.

There are a few ladies that went to Union University with me. I only knew 1 of them, but they are all interesting and artistic ladies. They graduated and have spread out, but blog to keep in touch. It’s worth reading. The link is http://redbrownblonde.blogspot.com/

Finally my Mom and my Uncle Ray have interesting things to say always. I am proud every time I get to read their blogs. Here is the link for each. Mom’s is www.pamkiper.blogspot.com and my Uncle Ray’s site is www.rbrim.blogspot.com .

Hope you enjoy any number of these!