“Then shall he answer them, saying, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.’ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25: 45-46 KJV)
I’m in a bit of an uncomfortable place right now. If you’re a regular reader, then you might notice two things right away. One, I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Two, I used the King James Version for the scripture, which I don’t think I’ve ever done. I’ve used the NKJV a couple of times, but not Ye Olde King James.
Why? Well, I wanted to preserve the real wrath of God feel that the King James language brings out so well. Now, if you know me, you know that’s not like me at all. I’m a Methodist for heaven sake, we don’t usually do wrath and the like. Well, I’m one angry, discontent, utterly disappointed Methodist. I am so mad that I SKIPPED COFFEE AT CHURCH TODAY! WUT?!
But why? Well, that’s part of the reason behind why haven’t posted much lately. It’s partly because I have a new position at work with more hours (yay!) and partly because I’ve been so upset and disappointed that I haven’t really known what to say. That’s come to a head the last couple of days.
In his infinite “wisdom” our new president has decided to issue a “temporary” ban on refugees and visas from certain predominantly Muslim countries. In doing so he has slammed the door in the faces of some of the most vulnerable people in the world right now. These are people who need our help. It would be bad enough if it were just Trump and his cronies going off, but many Christians, including some that label themselves as leaders, have just released lukewarm statements about it, stayed silent about it, or some have even come out in support of it! This includes some of what went on at my own church today. We look at ourselves as wonderful because we’re doing a Sunday School class that’s trying to start a dialogue on race issues. We pat ourselves on the back for that. We go serve food at the homeless shelter, and we pat ourselves on the back for that too.
Yet what was said about this clearly unbiblical, antichristian action by the president? A few mealy-mouthed statements about how “we have to love everybody” and “we are all God’s children,” and how we “need to come to a compromise.”
Compromise? COMPROMISE? People are DYING. Parents are being separated from their young children! Meanwhile we set around and try pick our words carefully so we don’t offend anybody?
That’s why the picture I used here caught my eye, “DID I STUTTER?”
Hey look, I get it. When you have a big congregation you have to remember that people have differing opinions. I get it, there’s a certain balancing act that has to go on, a certain politic that sometimes needs to be played.
But this….Jesus himself seems pretty clear about this. Jesus commands us, his followers, to see Himself in the sick, the dying, the naked, the hungry, and the stranger. He also said if we love him, we will keep his commands (John 14:15). He doesn’t seem to have much time for lukewarm folks (ask the Church in Laodicea).
This is wrong. This is exactly the opposite of the teachings of Jesus. You know it. I know it. Folks like Franklin Graham know it. So what exactly is the elephant in the room here?
Some of us, many of us, don’t feel safe. People who feel that the president’s actions are warranted do not feel safe. I can understand that. Maybe some people don’t speak out because they feel that if they do they won’t be safe. I get that too. Fear is a powerful motivator. I’m not really trying to fault anyone for feeling that way. We live in a big, complicated, scary world and we’re constantly being bombarded with “news” that just confirms our worst fears. As I write this tonight there is word of a mosque in Quebec City that has been attacked by gunmen with multiple fatalities. Things like this are legitimate news, and they can instill fear. However, much of it is propaganda trying to convince you that you won’t be safe unless you vote a certain way, give money to a certain cause, or repost somebody’s status on Facebook.
Has fear gotten to us as Christians? I think it has. I’ve been afraid. For the better part of the last month I’ve thrown myself into my new job, buried my head in the sand, and just hoped that it would either all go away or maybe not be as bad as people have been thinking.
But it all hasn’t gone away, and yes, it’s that bad.
And if I’m afraid, how would a Muslim living here right now feel? I’d be scared to death. Heck, I’m a straight, white, Christian male! I’m top of the food chain with these Trump folks. But I’m afraid, it’s scary. Tonight I was discussing this with my mom. I mentioned that with all this serious, scary stuff going on that it seemed almost trivial to go read a book, watch a movie, or play a game (one of my hobbies). I asked her if things were that tense in the Civil Rights era and during the Vietnam era. She said yes, they were. Every week in the newspaper you looked to see who had died and who’s draft number had come up. I was born in the late 70s, I missed all that. I don’t even recall being afraid on 9/11. This is a new feeling to me.
So again, I try to take the example of Jesus. I believe Jesus felt fear. Since he was fully human as well as fully divine, he had to. I picture him in Gethsemane being paralyzed so much with fear and so anguished that he sweat drops of blood.
But he did what he had to do. He did it as an example to us. He did it to show us how much he loves us and how much he wants us to love each other.
Is there room in the theology of the Crucified One, broken for our sin and salvation, for the politics of fear? No, I do not believe there is. Christ’s commands are clear. The president is wrong.
Doing something about it is going to be a big scary task, and I admit that outside of contacting my representatives (which I have done) I’m not sure what to do. I do believe, however, that Jesus is calling both you and me to set aside our fear and do more. May he give us the grace and fortitude to do just that.
My prayers are with refugees everywhere, particularly the ones affected by the president’s order. Tonight I also mourn with those who were injured or lost loved ones in Quebec City.