I know billions of words have been written on the subject of the past four days. I know social media is flooded with the dualism of folks for or against refugees being welcomed and whether bombs should be dropped.
But in times like these, we need hope and we need to be bold for the sake of love, so I am following an inner prompting that I’ve been trying to silence and ignore, and am writing on the subject of welcoming the stranger and on peace.
Maybe this will only reach “the choir” and not one Christian will see this that believes in keeping refugees out and in dropping bombs. But if my newsfeed is any indication, it’s a flurry of both opinions to the point where I’ve considered defriending people because of how violent their statements are becoming.
I am a Christian. So I look at this from Christian eyes. I also look at this from the eyes of someone who, because she is a Christian, often gets lumped in with the insanity of fundamentalist expression. I know how painful it can feel to watch my culture view such a beautiful faith by the horrible ways it has manifested historically and otherwise. I can guarantee you that a large percentage of Muslims in the world are feeling this way. I understand them and it’s so hard to keep saying, “we’re not like that” or “we’re not one of those types”.
I understand why rational people want to be rid of religion. But really, the only hope I see is transformation and transcendence, not leaving it behind altogether. At least not until we use these wisdom vehicles to enter into a unity with God that needs no explanation, because it just is. I would bet that outside of the conspiracies that float through my heart and mind, much of what is happening right now is due to the Great Turning that Joanna Macy speaks about. We are in a huge shift and whenever there is a great shift in history, violence breaks out, and people often default to fear.
Walter Brueggemann highlights two scholars, Stephen Toulmin’s and Susan Brodo’s, observations that Descartes’ response to the assassination of King Henry the IV of Navarre was out of profound anxiety as the medieval world collapsed. Calling this collapse a loss of “home” that incited a sense of dislocation and displacement. Brueggemann and these other scholars suggest, “The Cartesian development was not a buoyant act of imagination but was instead a desperate maneuver to cope with anxiety. Thus, “objectivity” emerged as a way to fend off ominous chaos.”
I meditate on this quite regularly because as the ground begins to shift underneath us, and the world truly begins its shift from the last scraps of tribalism into the unknowns of post-tribalism, I want to train now to be wise and Christ-like in my response, come what may.
If there’s one thing we can observe because we have a long enough line of history to see it; whenever big historical shifts happen, the friction gets hotter and the tension gets tighter. I say these words very soberly with a 15-week-old baby in my womb and a two-year-old beautiful boy sleeping in his bed. Trust me, I’m feeling vulnerable.
But here it is. I take Jesus to be my example and Jesus was not tribal. We see it in the story of the Good Samaritan, which was his response when someone asks, “Who is my neighbor?” We see it when he says, “whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” We see it when he says, “love your enemies”.
The most striking picture of Jesus that has hit me this week is the scene where Peter draws a sword and cuts off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. Jesus tells Peter to put his sword away and then heals the ear of the man.
How can we stop being Peter with the sword and start to be Jesus with the healing hands? He knew they were coming for his life and he not only didn’t retaliate, but also reached out to heal someone who was a member of the mob who had come to take him to his death! What spiral went out from the man he healed after that? And what spiral would have gone out from him, should Peter have been allowed to retaliate?
If we don’t start consciously bringing refugees into our midst, loving them and offering our great abundance, we will one day find them at our shores with weapons instead of hungry bellies, bearing bitter looks of abandonment and betrayal on their faces because we had the resources and power to help and didn’t.
If we don’t stop dropping bombs, we will continue to be responsible for the spiral of violence that our children will be asked to face.
One of my early theological influences as a teenager was Francis Shaeffer, a man I haven’t always agreed with on every point but still deeply respect. Something Schaeffer consistently spoke about was the “sin of personal peace and affluence”.
We take a risk every time we get in our vehicle (In America, approximately 2597 vehicle collision fatalities happen every month). We take a risk every time we feed our children (more than 12,000 children under 14 either die from or get treated for food related choking every year in the US).
So let’s get risky and start loving the hell out of this world.
PS: I challenge you to sit in silence for 10 minutes tonight and send love to the wounded places in the world. Let your heart break and let it pour into these locations in pain without prejudice. We are all God’s children. All of us.