Living out “Loving your neighbor” every day – by Kristen Ruscio

WWJD?? Do you all remember when the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” became very popular among Christian youth in the 1990s? The idea of wearing a bracelet as a reminder to oneself and to others to practice the love of Jesus in our daily lives became a world-wide practice. I find myself believing this type of public act of demonstrating Jesus’s love to be of particular importance in our current political climate. On any given day I can overhear a conversation with “the liberals this” or “the conservatives that”; “the republicans are to blame” or “the democrats are to blame”; “Obama should have done more” or “Trump should be doing more.” Much like Don talked about in last month’s Tartan, I notice we all have a tendency to jump into the conversation, mostly by trying to get our side across, telling the person why our view is right and their belief is wrong, and this spans many topics beyond politics.

As a clinical psychologist, I am fascinated by and study human behavior and the development of beliefs. For all of us, our beliefs are influenced by a plethora of factors: how we were raised, our religious background, specific life experiences, different forms of education, etc. What makes my experiences better or worse than anyone else’s, more right or more wrong than anyone else’s? Thankfully we don’t all need to spend years studying psychology to understand this because Jesus gives us this message over and over throughout the bible. Jesus tells his disciples that the second great commandment is ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). I believe taking some time to be silent, as Don mentioned last month, and to listen to the ‘why’ behind someone’s views, can be the type of public acts that demonstrate our belief in the second great commandment.

Over the next month I challenge each of us to reach out to our version of the tax collector or of the sinful woman and try to listen for the ‘why’ behind their beliefs. Maybe it’s someone with a different religious faith than our own, different gender-identity, ethnicity, or race. Maybe it’s someone with seemingly opposite political views, or that one person at work who gets under our skin. Consider how we can use silence to learn and better understand ALL of our neighbors. WWJD?

From Kristen’s article
in the July/August Tartan