Saturday of the first week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
Jesus calls us to be open, understanding and accepting of those around us, even those we may deem as “enemies”. God calls us to embrace those who are unlike us in every way as we are all human beings, made in His likeness. We are called upon to love others by emulating God’s love for us. We live in an ever changing world, one that is more interconnected and interdependent with each passing day. And yet, while the world seems smaller, with economies and communities more connected, it seems as people that we are more divided than ever. During Lent, I am reflecting about what I can do in my own life to help reduce the divisiveness that moves us away from what Jesus called us to do.
“What am I going to give up for Lent?” is a pretty typical reflection on the season, but it seems to me this act has greater meaning if we ground our sacrifices in the basic covenants given to us by God. What does God ask of us? What is God’s plan for us? What does it mean in the contemporary world to “walk in God’s ways?” In today’s world we are bombarded by an endless stream of images and sound bites of people lashing out at one another seemingly without consideration of the other person’s viewpoint or circumstances. God commands us to respect others and love our enemies. I worry that too often in our society, disagreements become vitriolic and those in conflict behave without compassion for those with whom they disagree. I do not believe that God expects a world with no conflict or disagreement, but I do believe that acting in accordance with God’s ways means we must be open to understanding, accepting and honoring others with whom we disagree.
This Lenten season, I am trying to be more mindful of practicing empathy, trying to see another’s point of view without judging the person, or at least agreeing to disagree in a more respectful and caring way. By practicing empathy and compassion, I believe we honor God and one another, and we more fully embrace God’s plan for our lives.
Dr. Kent Porterfield is Vice President for Student Development.