Growing up in Mississippi on the Alabama line, I often heard the term “Alabama redneck.” If someone was a poor driver, they were an “Alabama redneck.” If someone was dressed poorly or driving an old, broken-down car, they were probably an “Alabama redneck.” But when I moved across the state to the Mississippi Delta right on the Arkansas line, I was surprised to find “Arkansas rednecks” everywhere. I wondered what the people in Southhaven called the Tennessee drivers. Were they “Memphis hillbillies?” Where else have we been drawing lines?
I remember a time back in second grade. In my elementary school there were two classes for each grade. I was making a list of girls to invite to my birthday party. My mama reminded me of a couple of girls to add. “But they’re in the other class,” I said. She was exasperated. They were in my Sunday school, and we had known each other since we were babies. But in my mind, they were now “the other.”
As an adult, I work with new immigrant families. There are lots of ugly names for these “others.” Why do we do that? Maybe you’ve heard of the Sooners, an Oklahoma team? The name comes from Oklahoma history. Sooners would be called illegal aliens today. They broke the law to claim land that wasn’t theirs. But now Sooners are celebrated.
What other lines do we need to erase?
I Peter 2:16 The Message
Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God.
John 13:34 The Message
Let me give you a new command: Love one another.