I listen to the scratching of the fall leaves on the sidewalk outside my window; as I see the beautiful fall colors and bright sunshine; and as I feel the cool breeze on my face, it seems that all’s well with the world.
But, of course, that feeling doesn’t last long. There’s a lot that isn’t right. And what saddens me this morning is how much of what isn’t right we can control. This was highlighted by a monologue I heard this morning on, of all places, “Bones,” a crime drama. The monologue was delivered by a Muslim young man to a white, southern young man, when the latter made a comment that was meant to show concern but really showed deep-seated assumptions and generalizations. (It’s something I think we all can relate to, if we’re honest.) The comment was about the Muslim young man having the same religion as the men who flew into the trade center on 9/11. Here is his response:
“What about the vengeance and the blood shed in the Old Testament? The Crusades, the Inquisition? Are these events guided by a religion of peace? No, they were guided by self-important men who think they know more than the God they claim to know. This [9/11] wasn’t the work of religion: it was arrogance; it was hypocrisy; it was hate. They hijacked my religion that day. They hijacked my God.”
These sobering words highlighted for me this morning why I need to learn more about people who are different from me. They reminded me that the choice to label people or not is up to me. And, they reminded me that I need to speak up when those who call themselves “Christian” hijack the God I believe in by portraying a judgmental God of hate and war.
When Jesus met the woman at the well, they were from two cultures that had made many negative assumptions and generalizations about each other. Yet, they learned from each other, they shared living water, and God’s love prevailed.
This week, I will try to pay attention to my assumptions and generalizations. I will try to first and foremost see God and God’s work in everyone.
And then, perhaps, I’ll see that more is “well with this world” than I thought.