BY: Vicar Brian Muldowney
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
As I reflected, yesterday, September 11th, a day of national sorrow, this verse stuck out in my mind. God has created all of us to be one people, one nation, one body. We are called to serve Him by serving one another despite our own intentions, wants, or needs. Ultimately, Jesus calls out to us, redeems us, and then sends us to do the same to others: to show love and care to all we meet through sharing and living the Gospel.
But on that day, September 11th, just 16 years ago, we were changed. I was just an 8-year-old boy who thought the whole world was full of loving people on fire for Christ. September 11th marks a turning point in my life. It was on that day that I realized that evil exists, and that people actually want to kill each other. I realized that some have an “us versus them” attitude. I remember hearing that a distant relative, a Muldowney, ran into the South Tower and died trying to save civilians. It made me sad that some people reject Christ’s message. Some people reject the family that Christ gives each one of us. They reject the idea that we “are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Earlier today I was “walking the Cross” with a few fellow congregants from Christ’s Greenfield. We have been trying to start a Hispanic ministry in nearby Mesa, so we were trying to drum-up interest. With a wooden cross placed across our shoulders, we walked through a trailer park littered with mobile homes and a few people who were braving the heat. As we walked up to one woman, Maria, she told us “no hablo ingles,” meaning, “I can’t speak English.” I responded right back in Spanish, “Not a problem” and explained our ministry and why we were there. She was receptive – praise Jesus! She then asked me “You have very pale skin. Is your dad Mexican?”
Just to be clear, my dad is Irish and looks like it too. Maria, as well as the other people we talked to, were receptive to what I had to say simply because I spoke Spanish. I was coming to where they were on their journey with Jesus and showing them His love. However, I could see it in their eyes and in their actions as we walked up that there was another very real attitude present before I said anything in Spanish. I sensed an “us versus them” attitude.
In our churches manmade divisions rock the family that Jesus calls His own. Instead of the truth, “you are all one in Christ Jesus” there is a stance of hostility, pain, and anger at the outsider. But Jesus calls us to go over to the other side, one that eerily mirrors the rhetoric of September 11th. As painful as it may be, He calls us to care not only for those that we love but also to those who hate us, to those who would rather kill us than to see us preach Jesus. He calls us to the other side to love and cherish those the world rejects, as well as those who reject us. Jesus, in His loving mercy, has placed us in a relationship with Himself, and it isn’t one sided. He has saved us and now calls us to minister to those who are hurting, and hating, so that they too might come to know peace, love, and Jesus Christ. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.