Lent Devotional March 21: Love One Another
Love One Another
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:6-7
After seeing him on three different aisles at Wal-Mart, I asked him if I could help him find something. In his very stilted English, he said he was looking for “that which makes tea change colors.” As we walked to different areas of the store, I started asking him where he was from, how long he had been in the United States, and if he had any friends. He answered that he was from Saudi Arabia, had only been in the U.S. for eight months, and was very lonely. I offered to get him connected with an international program at UCO and to introduce him to college students in our church.
During the worship service, I asked Mwrtadha if he was Muslim and he said yes. I quietly explained some of our traditions (communion and prayer) and told him that he was welcome to participate. He said he wanted to do everything that I did so that he could experience it all and so he did.
And so our friendship began. He came to our home and met my family. We have met and talked on the phone many times to discuss issues that he did not understand in America: apartment contracts, car title changes, paying bills, and going to the doctor, to name a few. Very early on he said I was his “American mom” and so he began to call me Mom. I have visited him at college (now in Alabama), and he and his roommate, Hussain, have spent Christmas with our family.
Mwrtadha had never met a Christian or an American before me. I had never met a Muslim or a Saudi Arabian before him. We are both learning from each other. Even though we speak different languages, have different colored skin, have different customs and are of different faiths, we are discovering that we are more alike than different.
Our friendship has sparked many comments, conversations, and double-takes when we are together, some negative and some positive. I believe our friendship is a “God thing.” He believes “It is written,” as in “our friendship was written before time.” All I know is that God calls us to love and sometimes it is to love someone different than ourselves.
Prayer: Lord, you call us to love. In our busy lives we sometimes just see the familiar: those that look like us, talk like us and worship like us, and so it is easy to love. But, Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to love those that are different than us so that we can love like you do…wholeheartedly with no preference of color, nationality, language or faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.