safe, great, first — things jesus never promised
(Originally published on February 6, 2017)
Part 1: SAFE
This work is a response to the three most repetitive outcries I see on Facebook from men and women who voted for the current regime, all while claiming the Bible as the basis for their belief and behaviour.
See me. I claim the Bible too, but there aren’t enough resources and smarts in the world to reconcile the message I know and love with the one being used against it.
Christian leaders and their followers are using the Bible–THE BIBLE–as evidence for why we shouldn’t welcome refugees and immigrants; for why we should keep ourselves SAFE.
See me. I am a Christian too, but there aren’t enough resources and smarts in the world to reconcile the Christ consciousness and commands I know and love with the kind being used against them.
Now, as ever before throughout history, we wade through the painful declaration Frederick Douglass once made:
“Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure and holy is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt and wicked.”
No [wo]man can serve two masters.
“He’s going to keep America safe!”, they cry.
And maybe you can see me in your mind’s eye scouring through and through all four gospel books. I’m looking for scriptures where safety was a promise to the kingdom Christ came to bring, where safety was the good news being declared from Dead Sea to Galilee.
I’ve looked and looked and looked, exhausted my eyes; turned my temperature fever-high.
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May the reader understand that safety was never a promise Yeshua made to the people. Full stop.
And an olive branch:
I do know a little something of human nature and I can see how easy we’ve come to cultivate an allergy to anything which might bring us pain and/or personal threat. This allergy has become our will, even at the expense of rejecting Divine directives: “Love your enemies”, he says. “And love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
Not: “Love your enemies and your neighbours, but only if it doesn’t hurt like hell. Love your enemies and your neighbours, but only if it isn’t dangerous or doesn’t threaten your security and comfort. Love your enemies and your neighbours, but only if it doesn’t inconvenience you.”
Your own loved ones and your own flesh body are most important and must be kept safe at all cost, said Jesus. Never.
The Gospel doesn’t need fixing, but we just keep ripping words out of [con]text anyway, then we go on rearranging them to suit our preferred worldview. To medicate our allergies.
We circle the wagon around ourselves, love our loved ones more. Close the door, leave the least of these on the shore. Or return them to the sharks if they get too big for that.
We disbelieve when it isn’t effortless or agreeable.
But, if you’re a christian and your christian truth is easy-button or bubble-wrapped, if your love doesn’t lead you to a thousand personal crucifixions–if it doesn’t ache or inconvenience or threaten your security and comfort–then you need to re-check your truth against the grain of Calvary’s cross.
Ok, you’ve convinced me to say it again: christian, your christian truth is only true if it rubs splinters into your skin.
When Yeshua went from town to town collecting disciples, his directive was “follow me”. And those footsteps led the way to small margins and misfit cities; to the poor, thorned and desolate.
Those footsteps led to the lepers, the bedeviled and the bleeding.
Those footsteps led to dark “peopled kingdoms”, where enemies lurked in corners waiting for love first and love wins and love anyway, where orphans looked for mothers and widows needed bread.
Those footsteps led to:
“Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window ‘d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these?” ~King Lear
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ~The New Colossus
“I’m telling you the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do that to me.” ~Jesus, The Message
In other words:
“I’m telling you the solemn truth: Whenever you turn someone away at the airport after they’ve run in terror for their lives and survived 2 years screening/vetting/cross-checking, that was me—you did that to me.”
“You did that to me.”
Which is to say: You turned your back on God, just in case God isn’t safe.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ~C.S. Lewis
(Read Part 2 HERE)