Love the alien as you love yourself; for you were once aliens in the Land of Egypt… (Leviticus 19:34).
Fear is a powerful thing. Marketers know this. So do politicians. Those who are in charge of selling us things, ideas, take full advantage of our fears—that we aren’t keeping up with our neighbors; that we will get left behind socially, technologically, internationally, intellectually; that we are being taken over by “the other.”
The Bible offers another perspective: “Love the alien as you love yourself…” For a moment, let’s focus on the second half of the equation: “…love yourself…” What does this imply? It sounds conceited and self-absorbed—until we consider the context. We are to love another person who is not like us and who comes from a different place as we love ourselves.
We love ourselves in the sense that we care for ourselves. We brush our teeth, we clean ourselves, we feed ourselves. We do so in part because we consider ourselves worthy of the trouble. To love myself as the Bible expects, then, is not vain. Rather, it is a normal part of God’s expectations in the created order. In the image of God, I can love myself because God created me and first loved me. And I am to love my neighbor and the alien in exactly the same way. This month, listen to the Bible more than the media. Do not be afraid. Instead, love just as God loves you— and as you (should) love yourself. You might discover the immediate world around you becoming a little kinder, more gentle, increasingly receptive.
“A child of God knows that he or she is loved. And because of that love, which exceeds our own love, we can move out to take risks…”