They are your brothers

The news of late has been enough to depress just about anyone who longs for and fights for justice, fairness, and equality. We have seen states trying to limit a woman’s access to healthcare and limit her right to make her own decisions about her health. We have seen states (such as North Carolina and Texas), in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, move swiftly to make voting harder on groups of people that may not vote for those currently in power. We have heard reprehensible comments from members of Congress that rely on offensive racial stereotypes about those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own. We have seen multiple powerful male politicians (see here and here) become embroiled in sex(ting) scandals that appear to reveal a lack of respect for women in general.

It can be overwhelming.

But my recent reading has reminded me that it doesn’t have to be. We all remember the famous words of Gandhi, that we are to be the change that we want to see in the world. And yet this is not a new message to us as Christians, for the gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying that the world would know us by our love  I found this message reiterated in my reading of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. When talking about loving others he says:

Such a love is born as soon as you realize that they are your brothers.

First John says that “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This is a principle that Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, Gandhi, and countless others have understood. As soon as we begin to see the other as our brother, we will learn to love him. As soon as the unknown person becomes our sister, we will be able to love her. But the opposite is also true. As long as we do not allow ourselves to see the other as a human being, as a brother, as a sister, we will not be able to love them and we will not know God. As long as someone else is an other to us we will be able to think that his/her rights are not as important as ours, we will be able to speak only in stereotypes, and we will be able to bulldoze over justice, fairness, and equality.

We must be about breaking down walls and dispensing with stereotypes. We must be about getting to know the Other. We must be about justice, fairness, equality and, yes, even love. For this is how we are to be known and this is how we will know God.

Thomas Whitley

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Thomas Whitley holds a Master of Arts in Religion and a Master of Divinity from Gardner-Webb University. He is currently working on a PhD in Religions of Western Antiquity at Florida State University. He regularly writes on religion, technology, and politics at thomaswhitley.com.

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  • Ray Wilkins

    Marcus Aurelius and Ghandi had a different definition of love than God does. God’s love seeks the benefit of his creatures by revealing Himself and His “will” to humanity. His will is found in His law, which although fulfilled in Christ, does not change the fact that we are to still seek to live by it as a reflection of our love for God. This means what God calls morally wrong, we call morally wrong no matter who it offends. Ghandi, by seeking a different view of God and of love, would be morally reprehensible to God.

    yes, Jesus did say that by our love the world will know us. By our love for “one another” meaning fellow Christians. This does not mean we are excused from loving the world, but the way we love the world is by calling them to repentance. Those outside the body of Christ are my fellow creatures, but they are not my brother or sister.