Leviticus 19:34 (New International Version)
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
It is 1936. American Jesse Owens seems sure to win the long jump competition in the Olympic games. The previous year he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that will stand for 25 years.
As he walks to the long-jump pit, however, Owens sees a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens feels nervous. He is acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority." And as a black son of a share cropper, he knows what it is like to feel inferior.
On his first jump, Owens inadvertently leaps from several inches beyond the takeoff board. Rattled, he fouls on his second attempt, too. One more foul and he will be eliminated.
At this point, the tall German introduces himself as Luz Long. "You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!" he says to Owens, referring to his upcoming two jumps.
For the next few moments, the African American and the white model of Nazi manhood chat together. Then Long makes a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance is only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens does and qualifies easily.
In the finals, Owens sets an Olympic record and earns the second of four gold medals. But who is the first person to congratulate him? Luz Long -- in full view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again sees Long, who is later killed in World War II.
"You could melt down all the medals and cups I have," Owens later writes, "and they wouldn't be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long."
Perhaps unknowingly, Luz Long taught the world a valuable lesson. Someone else put it like this: "We can learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp...some are pretty...some are dull...some have weird names...and all are different colors... But they all have to learn to live in the same box."
Dear Lord we pray that we would treat all those around us with love no matter how different they are form us. Help us always show Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.