If you’re a politician, condemning ISIS is about as risky Lois Griffin’s “9/11 was bad” campaign speech.
Still, there is something remarkable about the resolution that passed Congress this week—one of the few things to pass Congress lately, much less with bipartisan support—and the declaration made by John Kerry, accusing ISIS of genocide.
Both statements mentioned a number of groups who’ve been persecuted by ISIS: Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, and others.
Take Christians, to start. What ISIS has done to them is beyond horrible. The Christian community in Mosul—which goes back centuries—is no more. Some fled. Some were killed.
Then there are the Yazidis, a small ethno-religious minority living in the northern part of the country. Their treatment at the hands of ISIS has been, if anything, even more brutal. They weren’t given a chance to leave. There are mass graves filled with the bodies of slain Yazidis. I have friends who have seen them, who have stood over the remains of slain Yazidis and wept. In addition, thousands of Yazidi women and girls were sold as sex slaves.
Then there are Shia Muslims. They’ve been targets of ISIS, too. In fact, the majority of ISIS’ victims are Muslim.
It’s normal to be drawn toward those we most easily identify with.
But the real test of our faith is not how well we love those who are most like us, but how we love those who are least like us.
Are we able to do what the religious expert in Luke 10 could not? Are we able to see those who are different from us as our neighbor? Are we able to call them by name?
The religious expert could not even bring himself to say the name Samaritan.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Not just the neighbor who looks like you. Not just the one who shares the same faith as you. (Jews in Jesus’ day almost certainly didn’t think of Samaritans as sharing the same faith.)
The true test of our faith is how well we love “the other.”
Jesus didn’t just say, “Love your neighbor.” He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In other words, the measure by which you love yourself—by which you love your own “tribe,” whoever that may be—that’s the measure by which your love of “the other” will be judged.
Do we really love “the other”? The outsider? The one we can relate to least? The one we are most likely to write off, dismiss, and marginalize?
Imagine a church that did not just speak up for the suffering of its own people, but for the suffering of those who aren’t even part of this body.