My column for Kirwan Uniting Church' "Keep in Touch" newsletter 3 March 2019

Over a mug of tea and raisin toast at House of Jonah on Monday morning, discussion turned to the esoteric subject of when does the soul leave the body after death. We didn’t come up with an answer, the bible is a bit contradictory on the topic, but considering eternal life prompted me to wonder how some of us (OK, me) will cope with sharing eternity with people who get on our (OK, my) nerves. Because I do get a teeny impatient with some people. Other drivers, for example, people who don’t vote like me, or who watch reality TV, or use Microsoft and PCs instead of Macs, or who have (to my mind) weird tastes in music, or are vegetarian. We’re all guilty to a degree of separating the world into people like us, and those unlike us, and the traits of people unlike us get on our nerves.
But the apostle John points out (1 John 4:20) that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” You might say that just because someone gets on your nerves, that doesn’t mean that you hate them. But it’s a short journey from being mildly annoyed to marking them down as “Other”, different to you, and “Other”people are easier to hate. CS Lewis said that the people we share the world with aren’t “Other”.  Here, from Weight of Glory,

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…
It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit... 
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

Holy, not to be hated. Sanctified, not to be scorned. Their foibles (and they’re only foibles from my point of view) are God-given identifying marks deserving of love. So I’d better get into practice for eternity by doing more loving here.

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