“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.’” – Matthew 25:37-40
The pace of change in our society has perhaps never been more rapid than it is today. The recent changes in United States immigration policies have resulted in stories of pain and suffering for families in our nation and around the world. With these rapid changes and the many competing voices speaking about the changes, it can be difficult to sort through all the information coming our way.
As Christians in the midst of chaotic times, we are called to remember who we are and whose we are, and to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ for the world. To be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ, we are called to love the strangers in our midst as if they were Jesus. This is our calling and our mission – even when it feels risky and frightening to do so.
While we recognize that people of faith have different opinions about national policy, I pray that we will take the time to engage in civil, thoughtful, and respectful discussion with those who share our opinions and with those with whom we disagree. It is my hope that in this time of rapid change and an overwhelming deluge of information that we as United Methodists will focus on how we extend the love of Jesus Christ into the world as we act with compassion, advocate for the vulnerable, and work persistently for justice.
Recently, I had the privilege to speak at High Point University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. I concluded my words with this prayer and I commend them to you:
“I pray that, as we leave here, we would take who we are and go out into this world and be who God needs for us to be. Some will find it very comfortable to find those places, and some will be challenged. But if you take one step, that will be the difference in moving toward a place you should be, and getting up from the place where you once were. When you leave this place, be the difference makers in the world.”
Grace and peace,
L. Jonathan Holston
South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church