Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Love Thy Neighbor - Demario Davis

Over the last year and a half, racial tensions have grown significantly in our country. I don’t know why that is. Racial tension has always existed in our world, but lately the flame has been stoked, causing people to feel like they have to choose a side. Recently, you may have noticed that someone you thought you knew suddenly doesn’t appear to be the person you assumed them to be based on the side they’ve chosen to stand with. But this is not the perspective God wants us to have. It’s certainly not His perspective.

I try to look at these issues from a Biblical worldview. God wants us to look at the world as He sees it. Racial issues are a big problem in our country, but they’re only one problem out of many. The root of most of these issues is simple: God commands us to love our neighbors, and there is a huge lack of love amongst us. If we aren’t loving others, we’re hating them. There’s simply no in-between.

To hate anyone who is different from you in any way, whether because of ethnicity, religion, sexual preference or gender, is wrong. To hate anyone for any reason is wrong! Until we see all forms of hate as sin, we are going to continue to have major problems in our society. As Christians, we need to come to the front of these matters. We are the ones who are supposed to understand what love is. God is love and since we are the ones who have a personal relationship with Him, we need to share His love with everyone around us.

“By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:35

We should be the billboards of God’s love. If there is a lack of love in our country, we should be the first to take responsibility. We may have colossal churches in this country with thousands of members who do a wonderful job of loving God — we fast, pray, attend services, worship God and seek to know Him more. But do we do a good job of loving those who are struggling and helping those in need? Are we doing a good job of loving our neighbors?

Jesus said that whatever we do for the “least of these” we do for Him.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.” — Matthew 25:35-36

We cannot settle for saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and then walk away. We have to come to the forefront and take action when we see wrong being done. When women are being objectified, we men have to come to the front. When we see homosexuals being mistreated and ostracized, as Christians we need to come to the front to love them as Christ loves them — pointing them toward God’s truths. When we see racial tension arise, we need to come to the front to fight as we would for any other issue.

There’s wrongful violence going on and it’s not only black on white or white on black; it’s also white on white and black on black. Christians should set the example by not letting these differences come between us. Instead, our differences should draw us closer together. We need to ask these questions: “How can whites serve the black community better?” “How can blacks serve the white community better?” We as Christ-followers should be coming up with a common solution to love one another better. When we do that, there’s a light shining on us.

Our response should never be the same as the world’s response. Currently, there is a genuine lack of loving thy neighbor. So even though Christians say they love the Lord, this means nothing if we don’t love those whom God has placed around us — those whom He loves. Yes, we all have cultural differences but we can have cultural differences and still serve and obey the Lord. We need to recognize each other’s differences and appreciate them. We should never have to choose between our Christian brother and our ethnic brother. Instead, we love our neighbor — no matter what their background, ethnicity or religion is — at all times. If I see someone burdened, I’m going to be there to come alongside him. When I see someone hurting, I’m going to be there to comfort and help. If I see my brother doing something wrong, I’m going to be there to correct him.

If racial tensions continue to increase and we as Christians continue to stay silent, shame on us. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, representing Him throughout this world. If we try to stay neutral or indifferent to the issues of this world, if we watch wrong being done and choose not to speak out because we’re afraid of how someone else might feel, we’re disobeying God.

For myself, I see three reasons why I need to speak out: 1) I’m an ambassador of Christ — I don’t have the option of indifference. 2) I’m a man — God has called us to be fearless leaders. 3) I’m an NFL athlete, someone people look up to and watch. So I ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” I don’t think He would be happy with the way things are happening in our world. He is not pleased with African-Americans being subjected to fear and hatred; He’s not happy with the idea of “black power.” He calls us to love thy neighbor no matter what!

To gain a Biblical worldview, we need to understand God’s Word and apply it to our lives as the ultimate playbook. Gain the perspective of God. Love thy neighbor. Stand firm and take action!

— Demario Davis, New York Jets linebacker