Jesus taught love for everyone — when will we listen?

Published 10:28 am Thursday, February 22, 2024

By Sabrina Puckett

Win City Voices

This piece was originally published on

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Lately I have been plagued by questions about the drastically different interpretations in our society of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Specifically, why do some Christians follow unquestioningly politicians who are the antithesis of Christianity’s teachings? Instead of granting love, grace, and forgiveness to others, there is scorn, ridicule, and a lack of recognition of the humanity of people having different backgrounds, cultures, or ideas.

All of this reminded me of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus taught lessons using stories to demonstrate a point. Once, he was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with the following parable.

The story goes that a man was beaten, robbed, and left on the side of the road, half dead. Two religious leaders passed him and went to the other side of the road, avoiding him. Then, a Samaritan (who was considered an outsider in Jewish culture) took pity on him, took him to a home to help him, and left payment for others to care for the man in his absence. It puzzles me how people familiar with this story — which demonstrates that everyone is our neighbor — can erect razor wire at our southern borders.

All four gospels include accounts of the inclusion of women who were treated with dignity and included as part of Jesus’ ministry. He had dinner with tax collectors, who were reviled as agents of the Romans. There were “untouchables” (lepers, among others) who were touched, social outcasts who received the gift of inclusion and community, people with disabilities whose abilities were restored, the sick were made well, and hope was given to the hopeless.

I find all of this inconsistent with the current “othering” of those who are not white, heterosexual, cisgender, American, alt-right, or pro-gun. The desire to restrict freedoms of those who are different from them is also present. Yet, the historical Jesus was a brown-skinned Palestinian Jewish Rabbi. The only people who are recorded to have aroused judgment or anger from Jesus were the religious leaders who used their positions to increase their status and prestige. These were the very people who showed no compassion and regard for those to whom Jesus had shown love and acceptance.

I am in no way implying that solutions to our host of social problems are simple. We struggle with complex issues, both foreign and domestic, on which opinions vary widely. But little effort has been made to work across our differences to find resolutions to these issues. And when these rare efforts can result in compromise and a proposed solution, a single politician is able to deter progress for political gain.

While Jesus was not overtly political, many of his lessons flew in the face of the Roman Empire and Temple leaders. He was executed for reasons associated with the desire of those leaders to maintain power and control over Roman subjects.

My faith teaches me to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. Justice, in this context, implies not only legal justice but justice for all marginalized and oppressed people. Respecting the dignity of every human being becomes difficult when encountering those with whom we so vehemently disagree. The human desire to mock, call names, curse at our televisions, and insult these people and groups is overpowering at times.

The work for justice and peace in our world is overwhelming. It is ongoing for each of us and begins with loving our neighbor: our Jewish neighbors, Muslim neighbors, black and brown neighbors, LGBTQIA+ neighbors, addicted neighbors, unhoused neighbors, neighbors of differing or no religious faith or affiliation, conservative neighbors, progressive neighbors, neighbors who have mental illness, physical illness and disabilities, immigrant neighbors, and anyone who is different from us in their ideas, culture, and ethnicity.

My question remains: When might we hope to see those claiming to follow this brown-skinned Jewish Rabbi demonstrate love for our neighbor — all our neighbors?

Sabrina Puckett is a retired human services professional and an active community volunteer in Winchester, Kentucky.