Daily Devotion for Thursday 13th June 2024

Thursday, 13 June 2024  
Leviticus 19:33-34

Suppose an outsider lives with you in your land. Then do not treat them badly. Treat them as if they were one of your own people. Love them as you love yourself. Remember that all of you were outsiders in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Reflection

After decades of persecution thousands of Rohingya people fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State following government-backed armed attacks littered with atrocities. Many fled for weeks through jungles then making the dangerous sea journey to reach Bangladesh. Almost a million people have found refuge in the Cox Bazar’s region in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp. The United Nations has described the Rohingya as “the most persecuted minority in the world.” Their plight has been described by aid agencies and human rights experts as ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ and ‘Apartheid’.

Ethnic Cleansing, Apartheid, and persecution seem to be rather too popular at the moment. Although, we should not be too quick to point fingers. There is something alarmingly amiss in the human psyche when it comes to dealing with strangers, the ‘Other’, people from other tribes, and those with different skin colours or religious beliefs. Perhaps it is a holdover from our evolutionary past bubbling up into contemporary reality: we protect our ‘tribe’ no matter how awful the cost for others.

Jesus was keenly aware of our tendency to Other others. ‘You have heard it said love your neighbour, but I tell you…love your enemy.’ Wow! What a way to challenge the early evolutionary brain: even our enemy is to become our Beloved. 

Christ’s exhortation is deeply rooted in the Hebrew experience of oppression, starting in Egypt and extending through multiple empires including Rome. Each of us knows the struggle of being the outsider, the other. We are called as Christians to practise this love of the stranger so that we might be in a position to invite all persecutors, including the Myanmar government to love, and not to hate.

Prayer

God, give us the grace to welcome strangers, to love others even as we love ourselves. Bring peace and reconciliation to every corner of the earth, especially in places where persecution has prevented the practice of love. Amen.

Today’s writer

The Revd Kevin Synman is the Programme Officer for URC Global Justice & Partnerships

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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