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The Others

Beyond our edge lies another country.
The others live there-right beyond our edge.
A country’s edge drawn black-lined and defined,
us and ours-and then-the others.
A land’s edge or a skin’s edge or a mind’s edge;
no inside-out and God knows-no outside-in!
Is it really clear where we stop and an other begins,
even those, we once would call our friends?
Have we made a God of LAW that wars with the God
of COMPASSION who surely cringes and protests
when we brandish our brutal selfishness
wounding all the weak and vulnerable
who stumble in its path and lie there bleeding?
Does the crusade demanded by another idol,
the ever restless idol of THIRST FOR POWER,
that seeks to wall the borders of earth’s bounty
and seal doors that once offered sanctuary from evil,
now dare try to wrap even our hearts with concertina wire,
like the many map lines of history’s territorial greed?
Is nothing sacred? Is nothing safe from hubris?                                                                                     Wake up, people of good will!                                                                                                                         The time has come to expose this egomania                                                                                             and challenge people to believe once more                                                                                               in the possibility of joy from open hearts                                                                                                 and the sense of safety that only love can bring.

Law is a Transitory Solution – 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:6

Reality: Law is a transitory solution. Law was needed for humanity to survive long enough to grow past survival of the fittest into living in community. (Sumerian Code 2100-2050 BC; Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi circa 1760 BC; Hebrew Torah 1330 – now; Twelve tables of Roman Law 450 BC)
But law, by its set in stone nature, becomes a tool of condemnation, a way of labeling and separating people even within a community. Law protects people and property, but does not nourish the spirit needed to create a community of love.
Paul says, “Only in Christ is the veil of condemnation (by the law) removed.” Without knowing in heart and mind that we are loved unconditionally, we have no way of getting free of the need to earn and prove our value, often at the expense of others. Since in reality “All fall short of perfection” (the glory of God), no matter what we accomplish or how good we become… is never enough. Generally, this leads to settling for believing that we are “better than” another person, another group, another race, another nationality, even another religion. Instead of recognizing our shared humanity, we see people as the “Other” in order to feel good about ourselves. (Pharisees)
But when freed by recognizing the glory (love) of God in Jesus, we begin to become transformed into His image by God’s Spirit within us.
When we acknowledge Jesus as both our Redeemer and as our Lord, we have found the source of grace to grow free to be servants of all. If we continue to go to that well of grace there is less and less need to outperform, have power over, label, or reject others in order to feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately, it’s a big “IF.”
We are all imperfect and all loved as we are. As we grow in our belief in that, we realize “That we are not competent in ourselves. Our competence comes from God.” We do not have to prove anything. Jesus proved with His life and death that we are of infinite value, as servants not only of God, but of ALL others. (Radical inclusivity)
The gospel displays the love (glory) of Christ, who is the image of God. Christ who did not cling to power or importance, but walked in our skin and learned from others, and grew in wisdom and openness to God within, but also accepted failure, rejection, pain, and death for our sake, so we would know we don’t have to earn, win, achieve, anything in our short span here on earth.
All we are called to do is to admit our limits, focus on God’s love for us expressed in Christ and pass it on in whatever ways God gives us.