Friday, September 11, 2015

Leviticus 19:33-34 -- On the Vexation of Strangers

"And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
Leviticus 19:33-34

God tells us in verse 18 of this chapter to love our neighbors as ourselves, just as he asks in the New Testament (Matthew 19:19 , Luke 10:27, etc.).  And then later, these verses, clarifying for us that our neighbors aren't just next door.  Strangers are also our neighbors.  People from other lands are our neighbors, and we are asked to treat them as if they had been born among us.  Considering some of the major issues in our society today, this seems like a very applicable clarification for us as well.
Christ taught a similar lesson in the story of the Good Samaritan.  In the society Christ lived in, Samaritans were unwanted strangers, to be avoided, but he taught that they also could be good people, and that being a neighbor  requires engagement and action, not just an abstract feeling of general good will for the world.
Today, let's work on not vexing strangers.  And if we can get that first step down, let's move on to treating them exactly as we would non-strangers.  And if we can get there, then let's move on to some active love.  After all, we're *all* strangers to someone.  We all are parts of a group that someone else hates, avoids, or dismisses.  Hatred and intolerance are not okay.  Let's learn more about each other.  Let's see if we can understand each other and find common ground... but even if we can't, let's respect each other as human beings, and as the children of God.

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