From time to time our world convulses and shudders from the effects of apathy, cruelty, violence, and human indifference. It writhes and twists with segregation, prejudice, discrimination and fear. Nations bump against each other and build walls arising from fear, misunderstanding, and spiritual blindness.
Jesus teaches that we are all one of the same body. Guardians for each other, whether family, friend, or enemy.
We live in countries that to varying degrees either facilitate or impede our spiritual growth by the religious freedoms they protect. I am blessed to live in a country that has more religious freedom than many. About 71% of United States citizens consider themselves to be Christian; 2% Jewish; 1% Muslim; 1% Buddhist; 1% Hindu; 1% Other (including Native American faiths and New Age); 3% Atheist; 4% Agnostic; and, the remainder either unaffiliated or who “don’t know.” (Based on Pew Research in 2018.) Although the majority of United States citizens believe in Christ, there is no “American Jesus.”
Christ transcends all nationalities and world divides; Christ belongs to no one — He belongs to everyone.
Christianity is the most prevalent religion in the world. Estimates by the Pew Research Center three years ago (2015), reported that Christians throughout the world account for approximately 31% of the world’s 7.3 billion population. According to the 2018 World Atlas, the three largest Christian populations are found in North and South America: United States (227 million), Brazil (184 million), and Mexico (112 million). Nigeria has the most Christians on the African continent, especially in the southern and central areas (89 million). Other countries have large Christian populations, including Russia (89 million), the Philippines (86 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (73 million), Ethiopia (64 million), Italy (51 million), France (estimated 40 million), and Germany (51 million). This is not an exclusive list: Other sources state that Christianity is the largest religion in United Kingdom, Canada, Romania, and Australia, for example. Even in countries where Christianity is unpopular, discouraged, or is not the primary religion, many people are Christians: India (estimated 23 million), China (estimated 67 million), Japan (estimated 2 million), Syria (estimated 403 thousand), Afghanistan (estimated 6,000); Iran (estimated more than 100 thousand), Iraq (estimated 1.5 million), and, Saudi Arabia (estimated more than 1.5 million). Estimates vary widely, and are used in this context only to make the point that Jesus is a “citizen” of humanity and He recognizes no national boundaries.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “..our homeland is in heaven, where our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is…” (Philippians 3:20) Only when we allow our love to cross the human-made boundaries of this world, will our love begin to heal the world’s suffering.
Christ teaches, “There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will acting as the true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different than anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is to be perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
As it is with God’s love for us, love is not deserved.
Perfect love is freely given.
Perfect love is from the heart of God.