Evidently, our Lord would have had a hard time getting into our country according to the recent discussions on immigration. I realize immigration and the issue with “DREAMers” are complex issues. We live in dangerous times. Yet, we can allow fear to control us and cloud our judgment. The question for the followers of Jesus is: “How can Holy Scripture guide us beyond our fears to be God’s people of justice and reconciliation in these challenging times?”
Jesus was poor. Scripture says, “Birds have nests and foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He was from a third-rate country and the no-count town of Nazareth. It was said about His background, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Can you imagine Jesus going through US Customs? He isn’t blond-headed or fair-skinned from a prosperous Scandinavian country. He is dark-skinned from the Middle East. When asked to declare what He brings into our county, He simply says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me to set free the oppressed.” The stunned agent asked, “Thank you Jesus, could you step into another room for further questioning?”
During Christmas, we heard the words from “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” – Forgive us Lord, we didn’t know who you were…. I’m not sure we know who He is today and that is my confession as well – His ways are not our ways.
The people in power, from Rome to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, considered Jesus dangerous. Jesus, stay where you are. You don’t deserve a visa or green card. What could you ever contribute to our country? You’re just a subversive who says radical things like, “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Jesus, you could be a real drag on the economy, but then perhaps, Jesus could set us free from our financial fears as He said, “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all your human needs will be met.”
Jesus was a refugee, an undesirable. His Jewish family fled Bethlehem and the brutality of Herod’s law and order policy to Egypt. He found as an alien, refuge and acceptance in of all things, an Arab country. Jesus understands those who flee Syria, persecution, and hardship beyond what we can imagine.
Jesus grew up hearing the Word of God. He didn’t listen to popular politics, a false-religion which cozies up to culture and Caesar, or panders to popularity. His ethic came from Deuteronomy which said: “God defends the cause of the alien…and you are to love and reach out to the aliens and refugees….” There goes the Bible, meddling in the way we live. Let’s face it, there are truths in the Bible we don’t want to hear. My Bible can be very selective.
I wonder what might happen if we let Jesus into our country? We might really secure the borders as we are freed from fear, or we might begin to see that in Jesus Christ, there are no borders. Remember, “For God so loved the world….” As the Psalm proclaims, “Our God is the God of the nations and not just one nation.”
What if we got our truth and news from Jesus, instead of the clamor of cable news? What if we let Jesus into our country who said, “If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get?” What if we let Jesus into our country? People might know we are His followers by the “…way we love each other.” What if we let Jesus into our country? We might hear the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who echoed Jesus: “Darkness cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Let no man pull you down so low as to hate him. We will live as brothers and sisters or perish as fools”
What if we let Jesus into our country? We might hear the words Bobby Kennedy shared in an angry black neighborhood following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. We might hear his words not as a Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, but as sold-out followers of Jesus and His Kingdom. Senator Kennedy said: “In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. …you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. …I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred…but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another….”
If we let Jesus into our country, we might start seeing each other in a new way. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “No longer do we regard anyone from a human point of view.” We might start seeing the dignity and worth in each other. Perhaps we might even see worth and dignity in ourselves…and perhaps that is part of the problem.