Back to Herod
When Jesus was a child not more than two years old his neighborhood became too dangerous to live in. All the toddlers were being murdered. Not because they were toddlers, but because desperate and violent men were so blinded by their lust for power that somehow killing children seemed rational. So Jesus left his home country and made his way to Egypt.
How fortunate, Lord, that you emigrated to Egypt and didn’t try coming to America. An immigrant child fleeing for his life with his working class family would not find welcome here. No refuge for the one who is our Refuge, no help for our Helper, no room for the one who came to offer us the hospitality of heaven.
And no wonder–letting you in turns out to be too dangerous after all. Your presence unsettles comfortable prejudices and demands that we acknowledge the truth or else blind ourselves with lies. When we turn away from the poor, the helpless, the orphans and widows, the blind and the lame–and when we do it with excuses about justice and righteousness or on supposed grounds of a theory of government or, worse, an idea of what the church is–have we not denied our Savior? “What you do to the least, you do to me,” you said.
To refuse to admit that “love your neighbor as yourself” necessarily means “love your neighbor’s children as your own children” is to put an asterisk next to the second greatest commandment and confuse the issue with fine print full of disclaimers and exclusions that amount to a belief (or hope?) that the Royal Law has nothing really to do with our actual lives after all.
Lord, how we take your name in vain and don’t even recognize it! We would have sent you back to Herod. I just know it.
Jesus came with his parents and left again when it was safe to return to Israel. Both the flight to Egypt and the return to Israel were advised by God through dreams. What are you doing here? Shaming the American people for seeing through the game that is being played using central American children? I am a Christian and my husband and I donated to Mercury One early on when the flood gates opened and the squalor of the holding facilities were made known. Yet these kids need to be returned to their parents, who entrusted them to human smugglers who ruthlessly rape them and do not look out for them as a parent or well-intentioned person would. You think you are shaming us who oppose illegal immigration by using Jesus’ example but your example isn’t even a fitting example. It’s apples and oranges. I find it appalling how you fail to mention the role of gangs and drug and human trafficking that wraps around the situation this nation is dealing with. People who want existing federal law enforced are therefore not heartless. Your judgment should be reserved for almost anyone but the citizens of this country who are crying out for justice for our own gang-stricken inner cities, for the safety of our own people, and their worries about our federal budget are also not to be mocked. Mercy and compassion need not come at the expense of prudence and keeping first your commitments to those who obey the rules. I am legal immigrant from Germany and became a citizen in Oct 2012. And I was very appalled to read this here today. May the Lord give you rational and emotional clarity.
I don’t think we would have believed Jesus’ story, either. In that sense, it’s the same. He came a fraction of the distance, with his parents, fleeing a more localized and temporary threat. There’s no way we let him stay. If anything, by your own description Jesus had it way better than these kids. Apples and oranges indeed.
We’ve got to be careful about saying anything like, “We never would have rejected Jesus, if we had been there” (Matthew 23.30). Our treatment of the least of these is the determining factor. Jesus himself had pretty loose standards of comparison in making that judgment. No need to have similar circumstances, only to be poor or sick or in prison. Check off just one of those and you’re a fitting example. I think these kids qualify much more easily.
Keeping our commitments to rule followers sounds just, but then I don’t know how that connects with a kingdom that tax collectors and sinners enter at the head of the line.
I think you’re judging the faith walk of people who happen to be on the opposing side of a political issue, and I think that’s never good. I think those kids are being used, and Jesus and biblical circumstances are being used and hammered to fit a situation and taken as a tool for shaming people who are supposedly “oh-so Christian” but then, not really. The Lord is our judge.
As for the tax collectors and sinners, since we all have sinned, should we not have a criminal justice system at all? Who are we to put anyone behind bars, ever? How workable is that approach in reality? Would Jesus endorse anarchy? Or does the Bible instruct believers to live and work and do their thing within the framework of human structures, obeying government? This border crisis is an unnecessary mess and it’s the fruit of the DREAM Act, which was unilaterally signed into law by the president, and if anyone should be indicted, it’s him, not regular people for failing to deal with it better. There are many churches on the ground helping, many individuals who oppose amnesty but want to help those kids with their immediate needs. Which shows it’s possible to be both.
You know I love you Peter, but this is truly more than children fleeing death by the leaders of whatever country they’re fleeing. I don’t know the percentages, but I do believe there are illegal immigrants that are coming in for the reason of bypassing the laws in place. There are people waiting in line to come in legally. This is a black and white decision to me. We’ve talked about it before. It’s either legal or illegal.. it’s either a sin or not a sin.
I’d agree that there are people looking to gain an advantage here by attempting to enter as refugees. And I’d agree that needs to be addressed. Being opposed to “let no one in” does not mean I am arguing “let everyone in.” Like you, I don’t see this as an all or nothing issue. On equating legal/illegal with sin/not sin, I think the issue is more complicated. There are sins that the law allows, and there are “not sins” that the law prohibits. As Dr. King would say, we have a moral obligation is to obey just laws and also not to cooperate with unjust laws.
Peter, I read this article the first time you posted it and have now re-read it. I resonate with your heart for the stranger and outcast. I agree with your basic premise that loving your neighbor includes welcoming those who come for refuge. But I don’t think referencing the flight to Egypt is a good way to prove your point. I’m pretty sure that if there had been, say, 100,000 young Israelite boys fleeing to Egypt instead of just one, they would not have been welcomed. I also doubt they would just have been sent home. They most likely would have been enslaved or killed. There are plenty of problems in the USA, but they pale in comparison to what went on in the ancient world.
Thanks, Mark. The question for me is not, “Would Jesus have been welcomed to Egypt under different circumstances?” but, “Would Jesus be welcomed to America under present circumstances?” The answer is he cannot be admitted, at least temporarily. I understand the analogy isn’t perfect, but Jesus makes far more imperfect analogies in Matthew 25. For example, he says, “When I was sick you did not visit me.” The goats respond, “When were you sick?” It’s not a great analogy because Jesus was never sick. But he still says, “When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.” I know this is your heart as well, and I know we share a concern to distinguish the true “least of these” from dangerous and violent people. I’m not even sure we would draw the line in radically different places. To reference another of Jesus’ sorting parables, it’s like our current response to the wheat and the tares is not just to rip out the tares, but to burn the whole field down. To me that’s concerning.