Campus Rock Controversy
I love the paint on the rock. I go up to it and peel off a layer or two and remember the other students that have come before me. Never before had I thought about the rock as a place of controversy; then again, I never thought Trump would be president, and I have rarely seen politics explode on campus. This year has been stressful and it’s beginning to show up on campus. While we have seen some awesome stuff such as Bridging the Gap panels and now a convention with U Penn, we have also recently seen the ugly side of things. The rock has been a big part of that.
But while we argue about immigration or the president and we all act as though God is really on our side, the real question emerges: who is on God’s side?
While there are verses about standing up for the oppressed and caring for the least of these (verses which are important and need to be considered), there are also verses about loving your neighbor and blessing those who persecute you. The fact is, I can easily love the refugees and the country, but I struggle with loving my neighbor. It is easy to love those not in front of us and easy to defend those who have never harmed us. But what about the guy in class that makes me want to tear my hair out? What about that girl who is rude in chapel? Even worse are those who we have bad blood with (insert Taylor Swift track here). You know who I mean. Those people “we used to be kind of close to before they did…” Or the people who “I thought were cool before they said…”
The reality is that the Bible talks about forgiveness and learning to function as a community more than it talks about immigration and politics; yet, I sometimes love people I don’t know while I refuse to love the person sitting across from me.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NASB). It’s not just about our political stance or how we treat the outside world–though these things matter— it’s how we love each other that will show the world that we love God. The hardest people to love sometimes are the people we see every day. We all have heard the classic line, “just because I love you doesn’t mean I have to like you.” While that can be true, often times we say it to justify our actions. I implore you then: love your neighbor. This may mean listening to a person you don’t agree with and not sharing your point of view in that moment. This may mean calling out a friend when they act in an unloving way. It could even mean doing something nice for that person you hate (well you can’t hate anyone so the person you “don’t like”). If any of this seems impossible right now, then start praying for those people. Not the “God, I pray they see my point” prayer, but a “God, help me to forgive this person” prayer.
Living in community is hard. We don’t have to agree, but we need to love. So maybe instead of painting the rock tomorrow, have lunch with that person. Jesus ate even with the Pharisees. God bless you all.