Posted by Michelle Anne Schingler
Readings: 1 Samuel 15:34 - 16:13; Psalm 20; Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 4:26-34
The scriptures are keen to remind us that this world isn’t our highest home—reminders which were particularly welcome to me this week, as the news carried strains of worldliness which I, in no way, wanted to adopt as markers of my home.
The rhetoric around immigration is infrequently becoming, and this week its stores of acerbic denunciations were refreshed. My distress was deepened by the benign source of these angry outcries—the president’s decision to halt deportations of youth brought here not of their own volition, who’re simply trying to make their way in our nation.
The pundits called this amnesty—which it properly is not. The president has not promised to “forgive” old sins or provide paths to citizenship—he’s simply refused to punish people who have, themselves, not broken any laws (if laws may have been broken in their name). What the president did was compassionate; I’d be happy declaring it a sign of humanity, since “amnesty” doesn’t fit.
But I’m puzzled by our decision to villianize the term “amnesty” in the first place. Amnesty, properly, means the forgiveness of past offenses. As Christians, we believe we’ve benefited from the most generous, and undeserved, instance of amnesty imaginable: the death of God’s only child in the name of our eternal life.
When we act as witnesses for our God, it’s usually here that we begin: that God so loved the world that God’s only was given in our name, so that we’d not die in our sinfulness, but enjoy eternal life. We are humbled by this generosity; often, it is what propels our faith.
It is therefore stunning to me that any Christian would harden their hearts against worldly amnesty, which pales in comparison to God’s own—when we are supposed to replicate God’s love, to be beacons of it; and it horrifies me that any Christian would take it farther, to suggestions that anything resembling amnesty is corrosive, or should be repudiated—instead of insisting, as I think we all should, that amnesty be granted where it is befitting, and to the benefit of all of us. For how, as Christians, can we argue that cloudy souls build strong societies?
We hear from Paul this week that life in Christ abolishes in us the world of men, and brings us into new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Here, all beings are revealed to be equal—because Christ died for all, because the sacrifice was for all equally. “From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view,” Paul says (2 Corinthians 5:16)—which this week, I heard as a call against elevating what man has made above the ways of God.
We are to walk by faith, not by sight—to center our focus elsewhere, to construct our values with Heaven in mind (2 Corinthians 5:7). Perhaps, then, we should use these moments as opportunities for personal reflection: should stop, pause, close our eyes, and ask ourselves, in all genuineness, what God would do in our shoes.
I have supported the Dream Act, and legislative moves like it, because I am convinced that such decisions please God—whereas older immigration policies, or some of the more heinous proposed policies, never could have. There are no quotas in Heaven; there are no impenetrable, or electrocuted, fences around its borders to hold those who earnestly seek it back; and I cannot imagine that God would post sentries in the desert before the Promised Land, to great travelers with guns and rigidity, rather than a draught of water, a bit of respite.
God called manna down from heaven to sustain those travelling to find new homes; God never, in my reading of the scriptures, greeted anyone seeking with a screeched “Go home!” God is our home; that home is recalled, in part, in instances of human compassion.
Like the Dream Act. Like not punishing seeking youth for decisions they did not make; like not alienating the innocent. We are to open our homes, we are the welcome sojourners, we are to love without reservation.
The president granted no one amnesty this week, though I would not have participated in these declamations had he done so—since, as Christians, we are called upon to champion amnesty, to further it where we can, and to count those who offer amnesty amongst our brethren. I look to all leaders who call themselves Christian to regard amnesty as virtuous, to not call it antithetical to our national well-being.
We cannot spend our Sundays thanking God for gifts whose counterparts we deny to others. Not if we’re invested in our own integrity. We know that double-talk is not pleasing to God—and it is our aim to please God, as Paul reminds us: “For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Images borrowed from: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_DHZzW4q616U/TJKMakrBR9I/AAAAAAAADGI/L0Xq4b4_lH...