The Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, edition of TheStar.com online posted in their News/World section an article with the following headline:
3 Muslim restaurant workers awarded $100,000 in discrimination case
The article [click this LINK for the original article] that the owner/operators of a French cuisine restaurant in Toronto were abusive toward three of their Muslim workers, demonstrating not just a lack of sensitivity toward their employees’ religious requirements, but intolerant attitudes and derogatory language used against them. The owners deny everything and are filing a “reconsideration request” with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
This news headline stands in contrast to the Canadian reputation for being “nice.” But then, such generalizations are often misleading. Despite hearing lots of stories supporting the claim of Canadian niceness, I’ve also heard lots of counterbalancing stories wherein we’ve been quite less than gracious.
Despite this reputation, as followers or imitators of Jesus, we’re called to a different standard. As Jesus stands highest even to this day in public opinion worldwide and even more so in Scripture, thus we should as Christ-name-bearers stand head and shoulders in reputation above that of our countrymen.
There are many examples of Believers setting these kinds of good examples in Canada. Those working with the urban poor, immigrants, battered women, other marginalized people.
It might be easy to see them and think of them as being “us” and thus attributing to our individual selves their goodness vicariously. This allows us to snuggle comfortably into our padded seats with some smug self righteousness. But Jesus’ doesn’t allocate the blessing or reward of my brother or sister’s good deeds to me by way of association. Rather, we are each called to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24) because we are all called in Christ to do good works! (Ephesians 2:10).
While we may be “nicer” than other societies, that doesn’t mean that Muslims or other immigrants in our society feel they’ve been treated nicely. Don’t believe me? Just ask them. Wow. You’ll get an earful of stories that will adjust your perception of Canada.
So let me ask you these questions:
- How have you honoured Jesus by demonstrating Biblical graciousness and hospitality toward a Muslim recently?
- When was the last time you stopped to both smile and talk to an immigrant?
- Have you ever invited them into your home and life, breaking bread together (while honouring their dietary restrictions)?
Faith – my walk of obedient relationship with Jesus- requires more of me than mere right thinking; it must be coupled with right action. And the actions that Jesus’ acclaims aren’t actions for self-interest, but rather “what you have done for the least of these.”