Charles Barkley, as usual, said it best: “It’s immoral for you to say you don’t like me (because of the color of my skin).” Barkley wouldn’t go where Jesus went, though, and said that it was okay if you didn’t like him for other reasons.
There’s a difference, the Chuck Wagon clearly was saying, between rational dislike and the irrational kind.
All this was in response to the Donald Sterling brouhaha, which surely needs no rehashing by now. The national hue and cry over the privately spoken sentiments of an 80-year-old Neanderthal (with apologies to Neanderthals) was fascinating and a little puzzling to behold. Sterling’s un-sterling character has been on public display for years, so the righteous outrage over the sudden and stark confirmation of it seems to be a case of too much, too late; and the mass eagerness to humiliate and exile the unregenerate zillionaire smacked somewhat of blood lust. From a Christian perspective, it was very, well, un-Christian – unworthy, that is, of Jesus Christ, who would have said to Sterling: Go, and sin no more. And strive to rid thyself of such thoughts. And as an aside, perhaps: It’s never too late.
Our sin, to Jesus, is that we are without love, an outlook which makes us non-Christians skeptical. It could be that we were made to love one another, but given that our instinct is to hate, it seems that toleration might be the more reasonable, because achievable, goal.
Toward that end, we could begin by weaning ourselves from irrational enmity. In his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus artfully ridiculed our tendency to stereotype in order to disparage. What could be more demoralizing than to deny someone his status as an individual? As Barkley was getting at: Hate me for being the man that I am, if you must, but not for being a thing.
Even Jesus, being human, was prone to this foible. “The poor will always be with us,” he pointed out. But, being presumably better than human, he cautioned that we should abhor, not the poor, but the poverty. The lack of money, he saw, is as persistent an evil as the love of it, and not because it makes men unequal, which is beside the point. Only when we cease to consider money at all, he said, will we free ourselves to think of higher things. An impossible ideal – as impossible as loving everyone. That’s why his kingdom was not of this earth.