If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. John 4:20
I recently found buried treasure on the Georgia coast, but it wasn’t the kind you might find covered in sand.
The prize I discovered was in a book containing the true story of a black slave named Neptune. Neptune served the King family on a St. Simons Island plantation before and during the American Civil War. His story is told by Pamela Bauer Mueller in her book, Neptune’s Honor.
Slavery under any circumstance was degrading and demoralizing. The author makes no effort to hide this. Neptune and his family were more fortunate than most slaves, however. They were treated kindly by those in charge of their circumstances. The Kings referred to them as “our people” rather than slaves. They were taught to read, write, and even paid for certain extra chores.
Neptune felt like a member of the King family. He was especially close to the plantation owner’s son, a boy named Henry Lord (“Massa Lordy” to Neptune). The boys were born five months apart and grew up as close friends. Neptune often spent nights in the King home as a guest of Lordy. Their friendship grew and continued as the boys became men.
When the Civil War broke out, Henry Lord King enlisted in the Confederate Army. Neptune accompanied him as a cook and helper. He showed great concern for his friend and worried when Lordy went into battle.
King’s division eventually made their way to northern Virginia where they met the Union Army at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The story took a very sad turn at this point; Lordy was fatally wounded.
When it became obvious that his master wasn’t returning from battle, Neptune began searching among the hundreds of bodies lying dead on the field. He found Lordy face down with five bullet wounds. Neptune hauled his life-long friend from the battlefield, washed the body, and was given a wooden casket to place it in. The Confederate Army also provided a horse and cart, and Neptune began the five hundred mile walk back to Georgia. Starting the journey in the cold of December, he was determined to deliver his friend’s remains to the King family. And he did.
Neptune’s story remains famous on St. Simons Island. A downtown park has been dedicated in his memory.
Neptune and Lordy were baptized as teenagers. The account of their inter-racial friendship and mutual respect for one another reads like a good example of the way God’s people should treat others.
One thing gripped me as I read about Lordy and Neptune: Love overcomes! Love can bind people together no matter what their backgrounds and differences. Because we are created in the image of God, we are most like God when we genuinely love others. Authentic love trumps everything else. Relationships are born and thrive when we see all people for what they really are, i.e. men and women created in the image of God!
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:9-16
Love genuinely from the heart,