I’m working on curriculum stuff for our education program at Henderson, and so I’m sorting through the Bible trying to decide what stories or lessons are appropriate for kids and then boiling down each story to a single message about living the way God wants us to. It’s complicated. And I’m starting to realize that a lot of the Bible is PG 13.
Anyway, I just ran across this story where the king of Israel defeats the king of Judah and takes tons of people captive. He parades them into the city just as he might any prisoners of war, but instead of being met with cheers, the king finds a lot of resistance. First, a prophet reminds him that these are his brothers and then his own countrymen express concern about being cursed by God because of the shame to which he’s subjected his captives—God’s chosen people. Perhaps reluctantly, the king frees the prisoners, clothes the naked ones, feeds them, dresses their wounds, and sends them home.
I like this story because it gets at the gist of the whole Bible: Love your neighbor as yourself. Everyone in this story (except the king) realizes that there’s something wrong with treating your brother like a slave. Later in the Bible Jesus will go one step further and say there’s something wrong with treating your enemy like a slave.