He walks beside her. He in his jogging pants and fanny pack and she with her visor and wheelchair. She pushes it for support—and in case she grows tired—but she never grows tired. They circle the neighborhood like clockwork. Until that day— the day they feel the hatred as heavy and wet as their clothes after the teenager strategically skates his vehicle to hit a puddle.
Their walks stop. And my heart wonders.
Are they scared? Are they mad? Is it too hot? Why would anyone do such a thing? Why would a teenager ever think it would be funny to splash an elderly couple on a walk?
My eldest plays flag football. One day he asked me, “Mommy? What is wrong with Germany?”
I paused hoping for more context, but there was none. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Who told you that there was something wrong with Germany?”
He continued, “There’s a kid on our team from Germany and some of the boys are teasing him for being from there.”
And there it is again. Why would anyone tease a little boy for his country of origin?
What allows for such hatred? What gives us permission to speak or treat others who are different from us with such cruelty?
1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen.”
Throughout this little book from John, we discover the litmus test—the outward sign of an inward working—for belonging to God. It is found in the way we live our lives and the way we treat others.
I was reminded recently that there are sins not only of commission but of omission as well. While we may never consider acting or speaking to someone in an unkind way, it’s quite possible we’ve witnessed it and done nothing. John has us covered here as well. “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his heart against him how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth, (1 John 3:16-18).”
God created humanity in his image, yet more often than not we fail to treat his creation as image bearers—those worthy of dignity. Simply saying we see others as made in the image of God is not enough. We must learn to advocate for our brothers and sisters who are treated unjustly simply because of the shade of their skin or the curve of their eyes. We must do as the Samaritan did—pause, respond, and genuinely care for our brothers and sisters.
The couple is walking again. I wave at them wildly when I drive by. They don’t see me. Perhaps for the good. Who is this woman waving at us frantically with tears rolling down her face?
They didn’t give up, I think relieved. And neither will I.