The Dying American Citizen

Wisdom is defined as knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. We can have all sorts of knowledge in our heads, but if we don’t justly act on it, we’re not wise. We can know more than the average person, but if we don’t appropriately apply what we know, we’re foolish. Moreover, the most important thing we need to know about wisdom is that it comes from God.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

‭‭James‬ ‭3:13-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

One of the things I know in my head is that America was founded with a spirit and belief that its citizens are the source of its government and are responsible for it. Yes, our history is riddled with grievous sin and injustice, but the American experiment set the foundation for the freest country in world history. From our point of view today, the United States’ nearly 250 years of history is far from being a society based on equality. Native Americans were viewed as alien people to be driven outside the bounds of civilization. African American slaves were considered the property of their masters. Women were legally controlled by their husbands. “In America,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, “a woman loses her independence forever in the bonds of matrimony.” In de Tocqueville’s America, the idea of equality applied mainly to free white adult males. At one time full citizenship rights belonged only to this group. Yet, even this limited degree of equality made the United States radically different from the rest of the world.

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville had been sent by France to observe American democracy in action. At that time, America was a young nation, and most Europeans had only a vague idea about its unique democratic system. De Tocqueville spent the next nine years writing two volumes on his observations. In 1840, the two volumes became a book titled Democracy in America. It is generally known by historians as the greatest commentary ever written about any culture by any person at any time. Free government allows human beings to flourish by providing citizens with authority and responsibility to pursue the common good.

Sadly, the practice of citizenship is under attack today by a form of bureaucratic government in which “experts” dictate rules concerning every area of life. The dying American citizen is a particularly dangerous and concerning phenomenon. This is why we need wisdom more than ever so that knowledge may be coupled with just action.

De Tocqueville saw a disturbing threat to American democracy. He feared that American citizens would become so satisfied with being equal to one another that they would abandon their deep interest and involvement in self-government. If this should happen, the government would grow more powerful and in a kindly sort of way cover society with “a network of petty, complicated rules.” The American government under these conditions could become as oppressive as any cruel European monarchy. Americans would end up having equality through slavery. In the last sentence of Democracy in America, de Tocqueville wrote about the fate of Americans and all others who would choose the path of equality. “It depends on themselves whether equality is to lead to servitude or freedom, knowledge or barbarism, prosperity or wretchedness.”

Freedom and liberty do not guarantee equal results. We are not born equally. We are all born different, which is how God designed humanity. The Bible says God made all nations from one blood, yet He delights in diversity, even as diversity is rooted in common traits. He loves to show unity amid diversity, which is a cornerstone of American self-government and citizenship.

As I reflect on 2020 and 2021, it seems likes we are living de Tocqueville’s fear out today. Bureaucrats appoint public officials as the authority on subject matters and leverage their expertise as a claim to rule us, which cuts us out of the picture. Centralized professional rule versus localized solutions by citizens who care about their communities. To the bureaucrat, all laws and rules come from their team of experts.

If citizenship dies, what follows is not unity, but chaos and division. Why? Because it starts to matter a lot who’s on top, who gets to regulate whom, who gets to make the rules. Bureaucrats compete for authority. They beget unhealthy conflict. In a free country where the citizens are important, anyone who sees a need feels entitled to go to work on the problem and get some others to help them too. It begets healthy conflict in a civil manner. It actually serves to build a local, cohesive team to work on a solution. There’s room for everyone to help out to figure it out.

Americans have always fought well because we fought as a free people. It reflects an integrity and order of things, one nation under God. If you leave people free and give them a stake in things, you will get wonders unfolding, even if it’s messy. Reducing everyone to some common form of rule degrades people because people have a right to govern themselves.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble to The Constitution of the United States of America

Neighborly Love, Flaws & All

Bad things happen. Human beings are imperfect. America is imperfect, and our history is riddled with imperfection. However, I love this country, flaws and all.

I am heartbroken when I see injustice. Injustice is sin. From a Biblical perspective, justice is a heart issue and a law of God issue. If the law of God says this and you do that, then it is unjust. If the law of God says this and your heart goes toward that, then it is unjust.  

Identity politics is divisive. It should be rejected not because it demands justice for those who have been unjustly treated, but because it poses a threat to republican self-government by corroding patriotic ties and demanding special treatment rather than equality under the law.

It’s hard to give thanks when you feel you’ve been wronged. Rather than giving forgiveness, you feel like getting even. In my experience, forgiveness is the better path to take. Why? Because I have evidence that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That’s a promise in Romans 8:28. Believe it.

That doesn’t mean we should give thanks for all things. People hurt people. There is evil in this world. However, we should give thanks in all things because God ensures He will settle the score. We only have to love Him, trust Him, and love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s conditional in that order.

My prayer for you and me is that we can renew our minds to transform our hearts to grow neighborly love in the United States of America. Then we can live out the proclamation of gratitude that our beloved 1st President, George Washington, so eloquently expressed.

Marc D. Casciani, F.H.L.

Too many people decide how much they are able to do based on their education, personality, or talent. Perceived self-worth and value-add to society is a function of qualifications. I propose we look at what is possible through the credentials of faith, hope, and love.

Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing. It’s a belief that isn’t based on proof.

Hope is wanting something to happen or be true.

Love is affection, benevolence, and goodwill toward others that has their best interests at heart, rather than your own.

When faith is rooted in vulnerability-based trust in God, then hope and love are natural byproducts. You don’t have to be solid rocks without cracks or crevices. You don’t have to have impressive credentials. You simply have to be teachable, willing to repent, able to forgive, and prepared to surrender to His greater purpose for you – in spite of your weaknesses and failures.

When you really understand what faith, hope, and love are all about, you can display them in your life. Your work is produced by faith. Your endurance is inspired by hope. Your labor is prompted by love. In other words, your faith motivates you into action, your hope helps you endure life’s hardships, and your love drives you to serve others. Faith, hope, and love are catalysts for work, endurance, and labor.

The only qualifications needed to live a meaningful life are faith, hope, and love. Let’s all place those credentials after our name …

Humbly,

Marc D. Casciani, F.H.L. (Faith. Hope. Love.)

Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 15 – Sherri Marsalese

Ordinary People. Extraordinary Conversations.

If “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” collided at an intersection, then the Neighborly Love podcast would be the result. It features casual conversations over coffee in a “virtual coffee shop” that lean into the power of empathy. It’s about feeling heard, valued and understood. It’s about serving others. It’s about depositing money in our relational banks.

Neighborly Love is an original podcast by MindWolves. Host Marc Casciani, author of Craft Your Calling, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Episode 15 – Sherri Marsalese

Marc interviews Sherri Marsalese, SVP & Branch Manager for CNA Insurance in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Pittsburgh. Sherri answers three thought-provoking questions: (1) Tell me about a time when you did something nice for someone?, (2) What would you do for a living if money weren’t an issue?, and (3) Do you have a dream that involves serving others? Sherri shares a story about accidentally and anonymously donating money to help an ill dog, tells of her plan to build a sanctuary for old and infirmed dogs and cats, and opens her heart about wanting to marry her love of animals with her love for older people. Sherri has a dream to train dogs for companionship with residents of aging services facilities to have them find comfort in each other.

Neighborly Love, Episode 15 – Sherri Marsalese (11-21-21)

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The Cool Kids

Back in high school, being part of the cool crowd seemed to be what mattered. The popular pack was usually comprised of football players and cheerleaders and others who were attractive, athletic, or both. In fact, a social hierarchy developed as a result. Those elevated to top status were small in number but had the loudest voices and significant influence in the class culture.

As kids, much of our behavior was determined by where we fit in that social hierarchy. Our behavior was a result of our status roles. We often did things simply because the kids we hung with suggested or modeled them.

As we grow and mature into adults, we should eventually develop our own reasons for doing what we do. Those reasons become convictions. The dictionary defines conviction as a firmly held belief or opinion, but conviction is much more than that. In addition to your beliefs, your convictions include your values, commitments, and motivations. A belief is something you’ll argue about, but a conviction is something you’ll die for. Convictions determine your conduct. They motivate you to take a stand.

Convictions not rooted in Biblical truth and Biblical justice are misguided. Many adults today have strong convictions about minor issues, like football or politics. At the same time, they have weak convictions about major issues, like what is right and what is wrong.

God demands justice. Therefore, if social justice is justice, and justice is sin, then we must be about the business of social justice. This is why we need to understand what is meant by social justice. We keep on using that phrase, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  • The Oxford Dictionary of the English language defines social justice as justice at the level of a society or state as regards to the possession of wealth, commodities, opportunities, and privileges. See distributive justice.
  • The Honorable William H. Young, an academic social sciencientist and author, defines social justice as the redistribution of resources and advantages to the disadvantaged to achieve social and economic equality.

By definition, social justice is not a heart issue, it’s a state issue. Social justice is redistributive justice by the state.

From a Biblical perspective, justice is a heart issue and a law of God issue. If the law of God says this and you do that, then it is unjust. If the law of God says this and your heart goes toward that, then it is unjust.

This is why we need to live out Mark 12:30-31. I mean, have you ever spent hours seriously pondering and working out specifically what it means for you to intentionally pursue loving God with your whole being in the tiny part of the world where He has placed you, and loving your neighbor as yourself, especially needy ones and perhaps even an “enemy.” We shouldn’t be paralyzed by God’s commandments, but they should form our fundamental approach to life. He means for each of us to seriously ask how in the world we are to obey them and put in the rigorous effort of prayerfully discerning what obedience might specifically mean for us. The only way to view justice as a heart issue is to live out these commands because “There is no commandment greater than these.

Condoleeza Rice, an American diplomat, political scientist, civil servant, and professor who served as the first female African-American secretary of state and the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor, recently stated on The View:

My parents never thought I would never grow up in a world without prejudice, but they also told me that’s somebody else’s problem, not yours. You’re going to overcome it, and you’re going to be anything you want to be.

That’s the message we ought to be sending to kids.

One of the worries that I have about the way we’re talking about race is that it either seems so big that somehow white people now have to feel guilty about everything that happened in the past. I don’t think that’s very productive. Or, black people have to feel disempowered by race.

I would like black kids to be completely empowered to know that they are beautiful in their blackness, but in order to do that, I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white.

Somehow this is a conversation that has gone in the wrong direction.

– Condoleezza Rice

Milton Friedman, an American economist and statistician who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, said:

A society that puts equality … in the sense of equality of outcomes … ahead of freedom, will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom. And the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

– Milton Friedman

Social justice is divisive. It should be rejected not because it demands justice for those who have been unjustly treated, but because it poses a threat to republican self-government by corroding patriotic ties and demanding special treatment rather than equality under the law.

There is discrimination in America, and we have to deal with the legacy of past discrimination. However, the current approach is not reasonable because it pits Americans against each other.

It’s time to change the conversation from social justice to Bibilcal justice. Where are the men and women who have the convictions, with God helping them, to “take the hill” for Biblical justice? Our minds, hearts, lives, and neighborhoods are at stake.

The Way of Love

The biblical meaning of the word love seems so far from how we define it today. We usually use it to express affection, emotion, pleasure, or happiness for something or someone. It’s conditional and connotes approval.

Biblically speaking, love does not mean, “I approve of everything you do,” Rather, it means, “I accept you in spite of what you do.” There’s a difference between acceptance and approval. If you’re a believer, then we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means we are to accept everyone without approving of everything they do. Why? Because that’s how God loves us.

In the epistle of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote, perhaps, the most the most familiar and cherished lines on love ever written, chapter 13 verse 13. In fact, the entire letter is a testimony to the way we are to love others. Let’s enjoy it in its entirety for its simplicity and beauty.

1 Corinthians 13, a letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth written between 53-55 A.D.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Marc David Casciani (1969 – 2064)

If I live to 95, the year will be 2064. That’s 43 years from now, after which my name will be written with an end date. Marc David Casciani (1969 – 2064).

We all have an end date. What will you do between now and then? Now is today. Then is unknown. But whenever “then” is, do you think it’s a bad idea to get started now?

Say this with me, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Allow that thought to enter your mind and take seed. Secure it by passing it along to your heart so it can be loved. Nurture it so your remaining years on earth will be lived with a calm, joyful, purposeful confidence rooted in God’s love for you and your love for others.

There are three facts to embrace:

  1. There is a God, a supreme being that created us.
  2. You’re not in control of your life. God is. You may think you are, but you’re not.
  3. Our ability to live the life He wants us to live is a fuction of how we manage our minds. If we’re good stewards, then we can live up to the life which God called.

I’m not speaking to you as a pastor or preacher but as a layperson. These truths I speak are experiential. I am a player-coach, and I teach what I’ve learned.

The single most important variable in a positive outlook and output in life is renewing your mind. We must unlearn what we have learned. I’m talking about understanding the patterns that were established in your mind and passed to your heart usually started in ways you weren’t even aware of at the time. Renewing your mind entails establishing new patterns that awaken your understanding of how you’re wired, how you’re created. It’s hard to do this on your own. You may need a mind coach as a helper.

Kindly permit me to share a story that highlights how a change of mindset, changes the outlook.

A farmer got tired of his farm, and you would say, of course, because he was born there. He had spent all his days in that place. When he was a child, he rode cows in the meadows, picked apples, swam in small streams, and walked through the meadows through the forest to the school by the roadside.

As he grew older, he had plowed every acre of land in the spring, helping to lay hay in the summer, pulverizing in the fall, and transporting fodder for the animals in the winter. He took his bride to his old house there. His three children were born under the same roof where he was born. Now the children have grown up and had their own homes.

The farmer was sick and bored with his surroundings. He wanted to change, and often in his dreams, he imagined a quiet place where conditions were ideal, where he would spend his old age in comfort and happiness. He told the house agent in the town what he felt, so the agent went and took a closer look at his farm. He felt confident that he would be able to find a buyer easily.

When the weekly newspaper came on Thursday, the old farmer saw the advertisement in the newspaper and found his farm on the list. The ad said that a 160-acre site in Hammond was up for sale. The land is fertile and productive, and it never fails to produce a crop. Forty acres of land are filled with the finest timber; a well provides water all year round. There is a meadow in the middle of a small river, and there is a house consisting of eight rooms. The warehouse is large and modern. There are machines and a rice barn with a large area.

The place has horses, cows, sheep, and chickens. It is close to town and has a telephone. There were various kinds of fruit trees, both large and small, with a coolness surrounding the house.

The old man read the ad a second time, then went into town to meet the estate agent. “I’ve read the advert,” he said, “and as far as I know, that’s where I’ve wanted to be all along. I don’t think I’m going to sell my farm.”

– Charles L. Paddock

Renewing your mind involves clearing and calming your mind so that you can pay attention to what God has provided you. It is analogous to fog lifting and being able to clearly see the road ahead.

The world in which we live has a way of conditioning us to never be happy. We seem to want more and more and more. We envy. We covet. We chase dreams cultivated by what media plants in our minds. Those thoughts are like weeds that choke out plants that produce fruits and vegetables. They generate complaints and grumbling that only make us unable to see and hear God’s blessings.

No matter how many years you have left until your “then,” start living the life God called you to live by committing to renew your mind now.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

In American football, there’s a penalty called unsportsmanlike conduct. It is usually called when a player acts or speaks in a manner deemed to be intentionally harmful or especially objectionable by the game officials. Unsportsmanlike conduct is a non-contact foul; if contact is involved it becomes a personal foul. Examples include verbal abuse of officials and taunting of an opposing team’s player. If the officials decide that the action was particularly flagrant, the player in question may be ejected from the game. If a single player commits two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in one game, the offender will automatically be ejected.

I have a son who is currently a junior on a high school football team. During last Friday’s game, one of his teammates, after a beautiful catch on his way to a touchdown after a long pass, stretched out his arm, at around the 15-yard line, in a taunting manner towards the defender trying to catch him. It was completely unnecessary. It served no good purpose. It was prideful behavior with an improper motive to humiliate the opposing player. Its behavior that should not be tolerated by any adult, including the game official, who proceeded to throw the yellow flag which negated the touchdown scoring play. Its behavior not desired in our high school’s football program. Kids need to be taught how to score and win in a humble manner.

Suffice it to say, not every spectator in the bleachers felt that way. One adult, in particular, was angered by the call on the field. He proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs at the official, “That’s a horrible call. You’re a moron.” He continued to cuss the officials until his face turned beet red and his head looked like it would soon explode. That’s when he turned around and directed his anger at me. Let’s call him Mr. Football.

Why me? Evidently, because Mr. Football blamed me for the call. He also blames me for “hurting the kids (i.e., the football players) more than anyone has ever hurt them.” Why is Mr. Football so angry? Why would he hurl such an allegation?

Because I am on the school board who unanimously supported the non-renewal of the previous head coach’s annual supplemental contract. The school district’s recommendation for the non-renewal was not without merit. It was difficult for me personally because I was in a unique position: (1) a school board member and Treasurer of the board, (2) a parent with a player on the football team, and (3) a former varsity football coach whose last season coaching was with the old head coach. I consider him a friend. No other board member could claim such a perspective.

Mr. Football failed to see the irony in his anger and actions. The arrogant behavior on the field was symptomatic of one of the root issues with the undesired culture. That type of behavior contributed to the cultural divide between what the administration wanted, both on and off the field, and what the football program delivered. More and more success begat more and more pride which begat an irreconcilable divide. No matter what I personally wanted, it was clear to me there was no way to reconcile the differences.

Mr. Football proceeded to yell and scream without regard for the embarrassment to himself and of the students and community members who could hear him. After about ten minutes of the tirade, I decided to approach him. Bullies, after all, are really cowards in disguise.

I asked, “Do you really need to act this way in front of kids and the community?

He answered yelling, “No kids can hear me.

I said, “Yes, they can. There’s a second-grader right there with her parents that can. I know because I’m sitting next to them.

He replied with a look on his face like he wanted to kill me, “You’re a f____in’ a___hole. You’ve hurt these kids more than anybody ever has.”

I answered calmly, “It looks like you want to hit me.

He answered, “It’ll be your last breath.

At that point, a friend of his, another bitter football parent, pull him away. Fortunately, after a brief conversation with law enforcement, Mr. Football apologized and behaved for the remainder of the game. The police officer asked me if I wanted him removed from the game, and I said, “No, as long as he doesn’t do it again.”

Even though it was an ugly incident, I am grateful for it. Romans 8:28 promises that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. I love God and am called to teach Neighborly Love, which is only possible if we love God first and foremost. Only by modeling his love, and righteous disapproval of unsportsmanlike conduct, are we able to truly “love thy neighbor.”

Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 14 – PA State Rep. Rob Mercuri

Ordinary People. Extraordinary Conversations.

If “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” collided at an intersection, then the Neighborly Love podcast would be the result. It features casual conversations over coffee in a “virtual coffee shop” that lean into the power of empathy. It’s about feeling heard, valued and understood. It’s about serving others. It’s about depositing money in our relational banks.

Neighborly Love is an original podcast by MindWolves. Host Marc Casciani, author of Craft Your Calling, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Episode 14 – PA State Rep. Rob Mercuri

Marc interviews PA State Rep. Rob Mercuri, who serves the residents of Pennsylvania’s 28th District with the values instilled in him during his Western Pennsylvania upbringing. Rob answers three thought-provoking questions: (1) Tell me about a time when you did something nice for someone?, (2) What would you do for a living if money weren’t an issue?, and (3) Do you have a dream that involves serving others? Rob tells a story about affirming a teammate during his competitive days at PwC, describes his decision to leave the private sector to pursue his call to public service, and shares his heart to solve the issue of homelessness and modernize PA’s antiquated bureaucracy.

Neighborly Love, Episode 14 – Rob Mercuri (10-22-21)

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All We Need is (Neighborly) Love

A thought is never secure until it is passed from the mind into the heart, and it is loved. This rule applies to all types of thoughts, which makes it a particularly dangerous principle. A bad thought loved produces relational chaos. A good thought loved leaves a positive mark on the world. Each of us gets to choose which thoughts to pass on to our hearts and love. An accumulation of good conscious thoughts serves the common good because when they are put among loves, they change their form and become our songs. Good thoughts that are loved become compassionate friends.

A fundamentally good thought is the Biblical principle of loving your neighbor. What does neighborly love look and feel like? Let’s examine two main components: (1) the command to do it and (2) what being a neighbor means.

  • Mark 12:30-31 states: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
  • In Luke 10:29-37, the parable of the good Samaritan is told:
    • But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
    • In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
    • “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
    • The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
    • Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Simply stated, neighborly love is when we show compassion and mercy to someone else. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a recognized expert. You don’t need to have an impressive resume. You don’t need abundant resources or a Ph.D. It’s not simplistic, but simple. It’s not easy, but heartbreakingly hard. And it’s messy. Mistakes are made. Two steps forward, one step backward. Regular feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, confusion, grief and failure will be had. You’ll wonder if you’re doing it wrong, and you’ll be all too aware of your own sin.

This is why neighborly love has to be intentional. Plant the thought in your mind (the commandment, Mark 12:30-31) and pass it into your heart (demonstrate mercy, Luke 10:29-37). Only then can you love your broken neighbor as your broken self: “Go and do likewise.” This kind of love is transformational in ways that nothing else is.

In our divisive and conflicted world, all we need is neighborly love. It is the secret thread that forges friendship despite enormous differences in class, temperament, culture, race, sensibility, and personal history. Let us urgently examine whether we’re seriously seeking to obey God’s love command in the context of rancor, bitterness, division, and relational breakdown. Let us also examine whether we’re paying any meaningful attention to our hurting neighbors.

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