Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's Time to Put Down Our Stones

I saw the video going around of the news interviewee having a live interview in his home when his children burst in his office and he brushed them back without even looking at them. What surprises me most about this viral video is the reactions of Christians.

Instead of Christians walking alongside this man in the valley of his internet humiliation, we are sitting on our high horses judging him for his parenting fails. Or if we are reveling in his humiliation and mocking him. We should be extending our hands of compassion to him, maybe even giving the internet some perspective by sharing a story of our own parenting fails that just never went viral. We should be known as merciful and gracious people, because we know that we have been shown loads of mercy (not getting what we do deserve) and grace (getting what we do not deserve and could never earn).

So maybe you never face-palmed your kid while in an international live interview, but we have fallen short of the Father’s ideal of parenting. If we are not parents, we could be aunts, uncles, babysitters, or nursery workers. We have all interacted with children and we all have regrets for how we treated them at some point.

As Christians, the core question that we ask should be “How would Jesus have reacted in this situation?” or “How would Jesus have me to react in this situation?” It is not incredibly difficult to know how Jesus would react in a situation like this, because Scripture recorded a similar story. No, there were not internet and viral videos back then, but a crowd of righteous people indignantly dragged a sinful adulteress before Jesus, tossing stones in their hands, prepared to stone her for her sins. And Jesus even gave permission for her to be stoned, IF the one without sin threw the first stone. Stone after stone left the hands of the righteous, falling harmlessly to the ground, because they knew they had sinned. Jesus and the women were left alone; her accusers were gone. The Sinless One did not condemn the adulteress, but sent her away to leave her life of sin.

Christians, it is time to get off our judgmental high horses and learn to walk alongside people in the valleys of humiliation. It is time that we learn to extend mercy and grace instead of condemnation. It is time to put down our stones, and offer the hand of friendship.

Speaking of which, I will get off my high horse now. :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Freezing the Refugee Program, Breaking My Heart

So many emotions are whirling through my head as I search for facts on various news websites to piece together what Friday's executive order really means:

I feel anger at the withdrawal of support to refugees,

I feel frustration at my inability to do something about this situation,

I feel grumpiness at the slowness of WhiteHouse.Gov in posting the executive order on its site so I can read it in full to better understand it,

I feel pity for those stopped at the border in mid-travel by this order and those delayed for a minimum of 3-4 months,

I feel resignation because I really should have expected this based on our President's campaign trail,

I feel joyful satisfaction that Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau's reaction to this order is "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada",

I reject a bit of sarcastic snarkiness bubbling up inside me at the how ill-fitting the Statue of Liberty's motto now is for the US,

I feel sadness because America's acceptance of the tired, poor, huddled masses was one of my points of pride in my country, The ideals of my country are swerving away from the instructions of my faith. Will I support the killing of my enemies or will I fight to love them and pray for them? Will I choose to reject the foreigner, the alien, the widow, the orphan, the least of these that my God commands me to love, serve, and help? Will I choose America First or valuing others above myself?

I feel fear as read a book on Bonhoeffer that discusses Nazi Germany's restrictions on Jewish freedom and then read news stories on the freezing of the refugee program,

I feel hope as Christian refugee resettlement agencies are reaching out to those who are delayed by this order and are speaking out against this freeze,

I feel sadness because I work with refugees, I serve refugees, I live among refugees. I welcome refugees because of my Christian faith.

So many emotions battling inside me at this news, but sadness overshadows the rest. My heart is aching, it is breaking over this news and its ramifications.

I turn to this subject in the Bible for direction. I know that Jesus identifies with the stranger, the hungry, the imprisoned in Matthew 25. Peter in 1 Peter 1 wrote with the instruction that "Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear" and Paul told believers in Philippians 3 that "our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

I am a foreigner. My citizenship is in heaven. I stand with refugees. I stand as a foreigner in my homeland.