Sunday morning, a man walked into a Sikh gurdwara and killed six people before he himself was killed. There was a reaction from Christians online offering prayers, but it largely subsided by the time Monday came around.
Last Wednesday was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. It was in response to the likely illegal pronouncement of several northern metropolitan mayors that they wouldn’t allow the fast food franchise in their cities. Christians responded in such an overwhelming manner that people waited hours to get a chicken sandwich and the national media took notice to the point that it was the top story of the day.
The gap between the two responses is a black eye on the evangelical church in the United States. Tons of words have been spilled over Chick-fil-A in the previous week that I am not going to really add anything to that conversation other than I agree with the many people on all points of the theological spectrum that believe it wasn’t our finest moment. It seemed to affirm that we are far more likely to rally around our pet causes rather than people.
But what if it were different? After the tragedy on Sunday, I read about how the Sikh community has suffered much prejudice and violence since 9/11 because they have been confused with Muslims (though that treatment is just as evil when directed towards people of the Islam faith). An event like this can send ripples through Sikh communities all over the country. People are hurting, perhaps feeling like they are hated, and are not welcome in a country they call home.
What if Mike Huckabee had decided that we should have a Sikh Appreciation Day? We could patronize their businesses. We could visit Sikh households and bring them fruit baskets. We could invite Sikhs to dinner at our houses. We could send Sikh families cards letting them know that we love them and we are praying for their community. We could just simply get to know the Sikh men and women in our community.
The point isn’t attention, but what if we responded in such an overwhelming way that people took notice of that?
What if instead of talking so much about how we love people, we actually showed that we love people?
What if love is what moved us to massive action rather than a cause?
What if love for Sikhs suffering heartache, Syrians experiencing hell on earth, children across the world starving, neighbors down the street impoverished, widows and widowers grieving, outcasts in our schools or workplaces, and, yes, homosexual women and men that feel like they are hated compelled us to go out into the world?
This is not anything radical or new. Jesus said the way that we are supposed to live hangs on loving God and loving others. He pointed out that we are not supposed to love just the people like us, but the women and men that are different from us and even those we might consider enemies. Love is one of our high callings in this world.
So let us love. I doubt that God is all that impressed when we buy a chicken sandwich. But when we reach out to a neighbor—especially one that is different from us—in need? I almost believe God would say, “Ah, now that is the most excellent way.”