Our daughter and her new Turkish "aunt"
After our friends left, Carrie and the kids and I were gushing about how much we enjoyed their visit, and I saw a teachable moment. The conversation went like this:
Me: "Do you think we should be mean to people like our friends just because they look different than we do or have some different beliefs?"
Our oldest kids (ages 8 and 5): "No way!!!!"
Me: "Well, some people seem to think we should be mean to them because they are different."
Our daughter (the 8-year-old): "You know, Daddy, we should love all people. We should even love the people who love God but are mean to other people who are different, because maybe through our love we can win them over to the way of love."
My first thought was how sad it is that my daughter knows of people who "love God" but hate Muslims and others who are different. My second was to marvel at the wisdom of a little girl who understands that we overcome hatred with love. Just as we Jesus-followers should love our Muslim friends, we should also love those who call themselves Christ-followers but still live with hate in their hearts.
I am reminded of Romans 12. While the entire chapter is rich, here are some pertinent highlights taken directly from The Message version of the Bible:
Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it.
Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.
Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.
Don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone.
Get along with everybody.
If you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.
Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
I see so much of this in my daughter, and I want to be more like her (and more like Jesus) when I grow up. May God give me the grace to grow in love so that I love ALL people ALL the time!