“They will know we are Christians by our love.” At least in my neck of the woods, Christianity is seen as oppressive, intolerant, anti-intellectual and against science. Not a fair assessment, to be sure, but why is it that many of my neighbors think so badly of Christians, or at least of the religion to which we adhere?
In “Letting Go of My Father” (The Atlantic), Jonathan Rauch describes the last year of his father’s life and his own loneliness and desperation as he tried to honor his father and care for him at the same time. He writes, “The medical infrastructure for elder care in America is good, very good. But the cultural infrastructure is all but nonexistent.”
From Leviticus to Matthew to Romans, love of neighbor comes up again and again. As Paul states it, “The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Romans 13:9).
Jonathan Rauch’s story suggests that thousands of Americans are facing the physical decline of their parents, and they feel as though they are facing it alone. They don’t need better doctors; they need better neighbors. Cooking a meal, asking a simple question, “How are you? What can I do to help?”, offering childcare, offering to run errands, going out of our way to care for our neighbor. Perhaps they will know we are Christians by our love.