I wish I was Russell Simmons.
Or, at the least, someone with the same deep pockets.
This week Lowe's is stirring up controversy all over the news and internet after it publicly announced that it was pulling out ads that were to originally air on TLC's new show All-American Muslim.
Enter Russell Simmons on his white horse, ready to save the day.
Simmons offered to buy the recently vacated advertising space at TLC in a show of support for the underdog, the Muslim families just living out their American dream through the lens of their religion.
I don't fault Lowe's for their decision, they have every right to spend their money where they see fit. But I do have some criticism for the Christian group that pressured Lowe's into reneging on support for what they saw as an attempt "to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show."
Because when some Christians say they believe in the right of worship and freedom of faith, what they really mean is freedom for Christians to practice Christianity in a country founded on Christian principles by our Christian forefathers.
For everyone else whose religion has evil or dangerous followers, the same does not apply.
(Cuckoo and crazed cultish Christians are exempt from this, however. And oh! how we've had our fair share!)
I wish I could have bought up that advertising space as a Christian to somehow publicly state that I do not live in fear of Muslims. Or Hindus. Or atheists. Or those fanatical Comic Con geeks that give me the heebee-jeebies.
I instead desire to live a life of love for and towards each and every one, regardless of their religion, constrained by the love of Christ.
While I don't have Simmons $340 million, I do have more than enough. And while I don't know the Muslims whose lives are portrayed on TLC's show, I do have Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, and atheists all living in my All-Canadian neighborhood.
In fact, just this week, our family was matched with another family who are recent refugees from a land where basic freedoms were restricted. The few things they brought with them aren't enough to live well in a foreign country but the one treasured thing they were able to bring over intact was their Hindu faith.
When I had offered to host, befriend, or adopt a family through one Catholic group's immigration outreach program, I didn't give restrictions for those outside of my faith or those whose personal choices I could not agree with.
Instead I left it to God to match our hearts with those who needed love the most, those that even perhaps needed His love the most.
This holiday we are celebrating Jesus' birth as the Son of God sent by His Father to die so that He could redeem a lost and sinful world back to Himself.
As we celebrate in light of what we know to be truth and have acted upon for the salvation of our souls, how could we not offer to others what we have been freely given?
Perhaps you too are fearful of those whose religion seems in conflict with your faith or those whose religion is actively engaged against your own. God did not call His people to live in fear but to live out loud the very words of Jesus' they claim to profess.
What if, instead of shrinking back in fear, God's people rose up in conspiracy against all the anxieties and suspicions towards their neighbors, co-workers, or peers and instead embraced them in Christian love?
(And by embracing, I do not mean a two fisted exchange with your hands full of the household's heaviest leather-bound Bible.)
An invitation to dinner at your place. An offer to watch her kids while she gets some downtime. Meeting up for coffee. A drive into work together.
An exchanging of hearts to see each other as God sees each of us: His creation for whom He came, "the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee (Jesus) tonight", and for whom He lives, waiting "where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in."
Conspire to love this holiday season. Conspire to trumpet aloud the salvation that whispers hope to your soul this Christmas.
To those within your circle of faith and those who are still waiting without.
*These are my thoughts on what "doing thanks" looks like. Living in gratitude for what Jesus' birth means to me, living it out as a reflection of what my believing that He was the Son of God would look like. Others' thoughts are here.