Monday, July 28, 2014

The Wretched Refuse

For those of you who have been praying for my father-law, thank you. Please continue to hold him in the Light. He continues to hang in there. There is really nothing new to report, but they will be doing more testing today and I will give you an update tomorrow. 

But on this Monday, I feel a rant coming on...

I know very little about the hot topic of immigration. I tend to be politically naive and simplistic. But still, with all the debate lately about immigration and building walls and closing our borders I have found myself wondering about the Statue of Liberty. As a student of history (and an old geezer) I can remember when Lady Liberty was more than a tourist attraction. It was a symbol of hope to the world. But the world has changed, our nation has changed, and I worry that the old girl may soon be out of a job. If the borders are all closed, who will she welcome? And if she is no longer needed we could have a real predicament on our hands. She's an immigrant from France, and if she becomes unemployed she could be deported. How embarrassing would that be? Seriously, I know we need to limit the chaos and I know we need immigration reform so that families can stay together in our country after they arrive. But this country was founded on the "wretched refuse" - my ancestors and yours. We are all mutts. We need to be very careful about seeing ourselves as "real Americans" and others as interlopers. Does the rest of the world now see Lady Liberty more as a guardian of "what's ours" rather than as a beacon of hope? I love this quote from Robin Williams:

Maybe that's the way things have to be in this new world. But fixing immigration is, at its heart, a political problem. And since I know very little about politics and care about them even less I will leave that issue up to those who are smarter than me. Besides, that's not what I want to write about today.

I want to write about Jesus.

You see, I fear that too many of our churches (and PRAISE GOD for those churches that rise above this description) have already adopted a closed border policy. We are often only comfortable with those who are like us- who look like us, think like us, act like us and smell like us. We seek those who are already Church Worthy in our eyes. If I were going to start a church tomorrow, I would put these words from the Statue of Liberty on a billboard in the front yard. Even if, as some feel. they are no longer applicable to USAmerica in 2014, they are still absolutely perfect for the church of Jesus Christ.

Jesus made it clear during his earthly ministry that outreach to the lost, the hurt, the lame, the sick, the homeless, the hungry, the imprisoned, the sin-filled- the wretched refuse- was not just a task, it was a priority! Those who are "tempest-tost" by life, looking for a port of refuge in the storms of this world, should find the church to be a welcoming shore. Jesus has lifted his lamp and promised that "he who the Son sets free is free indeed!" The questions are not about the Savior and what he taught; they are about us. Do we live in fear of those who are different? Have we taken ownership of a love that was never meant to be contained or controlled, but was meant to explode throughout with entire world? Has Christianity become a religion of entitlement, teaching us better ways to save resources instead of better ways to share them? Do all of the biblical commands to take care of one another only apply to church members? Jesus said he did not come for the healthy, he came for those needing care. Our churches should be FULL of people who are hurting, who are among the lost and the least, because our streets are full of wounded people. The very people Jesus commanded us to love the most we too often turn away. These huddled masses are indeed yearning for freedom, and we know the one true source of freedom- Christ Jesus, the Risen Savior! How dare we keep the Good News to ourselves?

It is time to take the love and care of the hurting and disenfranchised out of the hands of a government that is (and has been for many years) ill-equipped to handle the job and put it back where it belongs- in the arms of Jesus. My pastor often says that "the church is God's Plan A for saving the world- and there is no Plan B." The church can still be a beacon of hope. I know- I am one of the wretched refuse who has been saved by grace. But if we want to love like Jesus taught us to love, we cannot have guards at our doors. We cannot build walls. We cannot label people. The church needs to be the one place where everyone is welcome and everyone is loved- no matter how tired, how poor or how wretched. I know I'm naive and simplistic on this issue too. But I'm also right. Because Jesus said it first...

Because of Jesus,

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