Saturday, December 8, 2018

Cold-Hearted Compliance

When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
Ps. 114 

When Israel sojourned in Egypt, the Egyptians didn't know it, but God was among them. Because God dwelt in the midst of Israel, where they were was God's sanctuary on earth. When Israel was no longer a welcome guest, but forced labor, the divine presence did not go searching for a wealthier, more influential nation, but stuck by Israel until the day would come for their deliverance. And when Israel fled Egypt, God's presence led them, and God's dominion fled with them.

The earliest stories of God's people are about strangers living in strange lands:
A wandering Aramean was my ancestor. —Deut. 26:5
Christian theology doesn't allow for a single ethnicity to be God's dwelling place on earth. But we do know that God still lives in the midst of God's people—and those people are gathered from among the nations. No matter where God's people are, there God is in their midst.

And there is no one on earth in whom God is more present than in the needy and oppressed:
'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' —Matt. 25:40
I can ignore these words of Jesus all I want, but my willful ignorance will not remove them from the Bible.

And so when we turn our backs on the refugee, imprison the immigrant child, arrest and deport people who have committed no crime, we can pretend we're simply protecting our borders. But if God is truly present in those in need, then it must be said that we are becoming an increasingly spiritually impoverished nation through our cold-hearted compliance to human laws.

Help me to seek your presence no less in the immigrant than among my fellow native-born pew-warmers, Lord. Give me eyes to see you in the least of my brothers and sisters. Give me ears to hear your call in their cries. And give me a heart to serve you by serving them. I ask it in the Name of the One who came not to be served, but to serve, and who taught me to pray...