by James Washington
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times
I just had an experience that had me look up this previously written column. I was losing my mind as in my Christianity in the midst of going off on someone whom I believed deserved it. Fortunately for me, I remembered that the road to spiritual salvation is sometimes so obvious, so apparent that we just miss it. Like most of Jesus’ message, it doesn’t seem possible that by simply changing ones’ outlook, the Kingdom of heaven is yours. “Teacher which is the greatest commandment of the law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is just like it; “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40. It is not always through guile and deceit that the devil works his evil. He can accomplish his goals if he can convince you that what is very important is of little matter and no consequence i. e. “going off on somebody.” With some sense of angst I recalled that this love your neighbor thing is pretty well documented throughout the bible and Christ certainly clarifies its importance in the above passage. Remember this is the Son of God talking. The single most important thing I can do to abide in God’s will is to possess love in my heart for God and my fellow man. That’s it? Yeah, that’s it! If that’s as close to a guarantee as we get, why are many of us hell bent on doing the things that will insure our place at the kitchen table in hell?
I personally think the concept of loving God is pretty easy to comprehend. Most of us dare I say, are arguably trying to accomplish this in one way or another; at least I hope so. It’s the loving your neighbor as yourself that’s causing the problem. The devil is having a field day on this one. He certainly was with me. Count how many people you can’t stand at this very moment. Take your shoes off and add to your list those people, who if they died tomorrow, you would be among those who would think, if not say ‘good riddance.” The devil has us so confused and dumbfounded on this issue that we can’t see that the hatred we harbor for others, the contempt we feel for people we don’t even know, masks an underlying reality that won’t allow us to love our neighbor. In actuality, we hate ourselves. You see the devil has tricked us into hating the mirror image of us. Deep down inside we hate in others that which we might become, because we really don’t like what we have become. Think about that for a minute.
The devil knows man is not perfect so he entices us into hating the imperfection in others; their flaws and faults, their weaknesses and shortcomings. All the while, being imperfect ourselves, insures that we cannot live up to the greatest commandment of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t it interesting that most people, who claim being saved, tell you they first had to realize that God through Jesus’ sacrifice loved them warts and all? The stories come from former drug addicts, adulterers, petty gossips, murderers and greedy self absorbed takers in life, who wished they knew how to have a healthy respectful loving relationship with another human being. One by one, they, we, I line up and confess that once we accepted that God indeed loves us, then and only then, were we able to love ourselves and subsequently love others just like they are; all imperfect, all flawed children of God, all welcomed at His eternal kitchen table. At this point one sees God in every man, every woman and every child, because once you accept that God resides in your own sinful soul, you can see God in others. God knew you before you knew you. And He loved you anyway in spite of what He knew you were going to do. As incredible as that sounds, it’s true. It’s called love. God’s point is so simple. If He’s got it for you, the least you can do is have it for others. Step back satan. I love me and I ain’t got nothing but love for you too. I apologized to the person I was going off on and asked for his forgiveness. May God bless and keep you always.