Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Call to Loyalty to the Highest Authority

I don't like to engage in a whole lot of social and political dialogue, but sometimes, when you want to love God, love neighbors, and live into community with all that has life there's no other choice. Here are my thoughts based upon the situation that continues to unfold at the southern border of the United States. Now, I understand that there are massive numbers of people coming through and also that there is not one person to blame. The situation is a mess, and it is a mess in need of God's grace. I'd like to share a couple of reflections as I consider our current situation in light of the grace of God in Jesus and my understanding of the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel accounts.

A hard truth to set the stage; the idea that people from other countries and those who come to the US illegally are somehow worthy of less than what we (who are US citizens) have and enjoy as a standard of living has become an acceptable outlook of the world for us as US citizens.

But there is a higher authority than US Law, and it is the authority of the King of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ. Jesus said let the children come to me...love your neighbor as yourself...love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.

If we are not careful, those who are traveling across our southern US border will be praying for us since we are their persecutors (or at least because we who have the power to change things remain complacent in the face of their persecution). If they are praying for us then by the grace of God may our hearts be softened.

There is a song that many of us may have learned in Sunday School growing up and I was reminded of this in an article I recently read. It goes like this:

"Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world."

In the eyes of Jesus (whose skin was most likely middle-eastern brown) people are people who are loved by God and worthy of no less than the standard of health and of living that we afford ourselves. That's what it means for us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Until we learn to treat those who have different colored skin, those who are from different countries, cultures, ethnicities and who speak other languages, and those who are considered “illegal” as not somehow less than but equal to ourselves the Kingdom of God will be out of reach.

To be fair, I include myself among those who have much room to grow into what it truly means to love my neighbor as myself.

The Church is not made to uphold the standards of US law. The Church is made to lead the charge in upholding the standards of the higher authority of King Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God which transcends and encompasses all national borders. And where US law (and for that matter the governing standards for any country) fails to recognize the sacred worth and equal value of all people, the church (because of our professed loyalty to Jesus Christ) has a responsibility and a call to be a prophetic voice, to challenge people, systems, legislation, and governing authorities that violate that key point in the great commandment (love your neighbor as yourself), and in lending our voices and our hearts to the highest authority and the greatest call take up our cross and follow Jesus for his sake and for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for God has anointed me bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come." (Luke 4:18-19)

"I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." (Rev.21:3-4)


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