Archives for posts with tag: diversity

I do not understand all that I know. I wish I did.

I know laws of math and science but I do not understand all of them. I know psychological terms and principles but I do not understand all of them. I know the Bible and can quote much of the Scripture but I do not understand all of them.

I don’t understand why good people sometimes do bad things and bad people do good things. I don’t always understand why some people prosper and others perish. I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people. I don’t understand why people hate other people- for any reason. I don’t understand why God is so patient with us.

Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to meet and know people who do not think like me and many of them do not look like me. I have had the experience of traveling to places with customs and behaviors that are foreign to me. I live in a very diverse neighborhood with 81 other families. The folks who live near me come from all over the United States and several other countries.

I was brought up in a church that taught me the love of God and the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. I was taught to love God and love people. I understood that meant all people.

I listen to music on the first half of my morning walk and then on my return home I listen to an audio reading of the Bible. One recent morning the reading was from the Book of Acts. Chapter 10 tells the story of Peter, a Jew, and Cornelius, a Gentile. Jews of that time were not supposed to have anything to do with non-Jews (Gentiles) but a strange and wonderful thing happened.

Cornelius was a good and religious man who was neither Jewish nor Christian. Peter was a good Jew who had come to believe in Jesus and was a follower of The Way. God spoke to both of them and they both were obedient to the instructions given to them by God. The captain of the Italian Guard that was stationed in Caesarea had a vision and an angel of God, “as real as his next-door neighbor,” told him to send for Peter. So he sent three men to summon Peter from Joppa.

While Cornelius’ men are on the way Peter had a vision and God spoke to him with instructions that were contrary to his religious upbringing. This devout Jew struggled with what he was being told to do but finally gave in to what seemed right. So when these emissaries from Cornelius arrived Peter went with them.

When they arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius greeted Peter and invited him into his house. Peter said, “I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other.”

Peter asked Cornelius why he had sent for him and Cornelius explained the vision and instructions he had received from God. Then “Peter fairly exploded with his good news: ‘It is God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open’.” (Acts 10:34-36, The Message)

There is so much about this story that I don’t understand. But one thing that I do know- God can do what God wants to do and God loves everyone. One other thing- I am supposed to love everyone too.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandchildren speak three languages. Don’t leave me now. I promise I won’t bore you with an exhaustive description of how wonderful they are. This is more than a story about my grandchildren. It is an attempt to offer a parable for living.

Jamie and Felicia were born in Tokyo and lived there until 4 years ago. They are now ages 14 and 11.Thus Japanese is their first language but they are fluent in English as well. They have just moved from Spain where they have lived for the past two years. Although they spoke no Spanish when they arrived, they were immediately enrolled in Spanish schools. As result, after two years of immersion in Spanish culture they have added a third language. At the end of this month they are moving to Mexico and will have to adjust to the Mexican version of the Spanish language.

The main train station.

I promised that this was not about my grandchildren and it is not. Rather I offer their experiences as an example of the importance and the difficulty of being multi-lingual. For the first years of their life they lived in a “Japanese world” in Tokyo. Except for spoken English at home and with a small group of other English speakers, everything was in the native language of their mother. Their parents intentionally spoke only English at home so the children became comfortable in the languages of both my son and daughter-in-law.

Two weeks after moving to Valencia, Spain in 2015 both children (ages 9 and 12) began school where all classes and assignments were in an unfamiliar language. Their lessons presented in the classroom and their conversations with classmates were in Spanish. Homework assignments had to be translated from Spanish to English and then back from English to Spanish. This was hard but as a result they now can communicate comfortably in the new language they learned.

Now what does that have to do with anything?

image of language learning - languages crossword  - JPG

We live in a world that is increasingly diverse and all of us could benefit from learning a second (or third language). The purpose of this writing is not to suggest that in a literal sense. However, I am proposing that there is another “language” that we need to learn for the well-being of ourselves and our world. It is the language of love.

Inscriptions of vandals in the fortress of Santa Barbara. Stock Photography

One does not have to look far or know much to realize that our civilized society shows many signs of becoming/being very un-civil. We are seeing all too frequent expressions of anger and hostility instead of understanding and mutual respect. There is the increasing need to learn or re-learn the language of love.

Yes!

The language of love is not easy but I believe it is necessary for our survival. Let me suggest an exercise that might help in this effort. Every day for the next week read Matthew 5:21-48 and Luke 6:27-42 in the Bible. Try to understand and to practice the principles of that “new language.” I believe it will make a difference in your life and in our world.

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

Last Sunday the preacher at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church suggested to his listeners that they have a lot in common with people all over the world. He emphasized the opening words of The Lord’s Prayer are “Our Father.” When we say those words we acknowledge that we are a part of God’s family which includes many siblings who don’t all speak the same language, have the same skin pigment, or practice their religion the same way.

Bishop Woodie White

The preacher was retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie White and he urged us to seek common ground with all of our brothers and sisters.

The bishop reminded us that the measure of one’s love for God was determined by one’s love for others. His biblical text said that if a person “does not love persons whom he has seen, he cannot love God, who cannot be seen.” (I John 4:20-21). No exceptions!

I agree with Bishop White. I wish I had never read these words because as he said, once you have read them you can say you don’t understand them, you don’t like them, or you don’t believe them. But once you have read them you cannot say you don’t know.

I find it hard to love some people, even those who are “like” me. When it comes to people who are not like me, the task is much more difficult. In fact, at times it seems impossible.

C.S. Lewis says it is very simple (Oh, yeah?). He instructs us not to “waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; [but] act as if you do.” In other words when you behave like you love someone you will soon find that you have actually come to love them.

My life would be much easier if the Bible had not told me that if I love God I must love others. Love for people and love for God cannot be separated.

Love One Another 2

Loving in the abstract is not difficult. Loving “up close and personal” is a bit harder and it is not optional for those who follow Jesus. He left us no choice when He said, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other” (John 13:34-35).

OK, I can probably find it in me to love those with whom I share common values and goals. It is not always easy but I can do it. Although it is a struggle at times, I can love my family and friends. It is a different story with a lot of other folks. But when you read the scripture you understand it like Bishop White said in his sermon- “there is no wiggle room.”

Love One Another 1

Oswald Chambers puts it this way: “(Jesus)  is saying, ‘I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you. This kind of love is not a patronizing love for the unlovable— it is His love, and it will not be evidenced in us overnight. Some of us may have tried to force it, but we were soon tired and frustrated’.”

In the late 1960s the Youngbloods, an  American folk rock band, was a “one ht wonder” with their song “Get Together.” The lyrics called on us to “Come on people now smile on your brother. Everybody get together; try to love one another right now.”

Love God. Love people. It is not easy but I am going to try harder.

Love One Another 4

Jamie Jenkins