So a lot of my neighbors and coworkers are very upset and disgusted by Obama “using” the Bible to argue for his immigration policy’s reform. Question: how, as someone professing to be a disciple-student of Jesus, as someone claiming to be Christ-like, be against the end of deportation and the division of families for the sake of “the Law”. If your interpretation of the law requires you to separate parents from children, to take food from the mouths of the poor. What jobs are they stealing? How many of us are lining up for those sweet, sweet jobs of apple-picking and daylight-to-dark farm work for less than minimum wage. As children labor in tobacco fields, eyes bleary and mouths full of vomit, we sit and decry the “parasitism” of the illegal aliens, a term invented so we might disparage the stranger in our land. The stranger is explicitly the non-citizen, the wanderer without the rights of the son of the kingdom. We can preach about a better naturalization policy all we want; what about the stranger now? “We know your family is being divided and your parents are being taken from you, but if you will do some paperwork and in a year or two everything will be hunky-dory.” Where are your cries for justice, mercy, and family, my brothers and sisters? Instead, let’s focus on dehumanizing the very people who, like us, wear the image of God.
The so-called political wisdom of the President granting amnesty to strangers and families. “Oh,” they say, “he’s just doing it to get their vote when they become citizens.” Yet, you talk of Christ in a similar manner. You were poor, hungry, and lost, and damned–yet Christ took you in and made you a citizen of the kingdom, so you are grateful. So when the President makes the political choice to not sever families, to not oppress the stranger, cries for the Law of the Land go forth. They go forth from the same christians who dream of defying the Law when it comes for their beloved “school prayer,” “free speech,” and “traditional marriage” and so on. But when it comes to defying the Law to treat someone from Central or South America as Christ treated us, they say, “Lawbreaker!” Who in the name of Christ obeys the law when it starves a child (or, frankly, gets that child killed by a drug lord) or takes food from a man and cries, “The Lord loves!” Perverters of justice! White-washed tombs, your outside is white and pure while within you are full of rot and death. How long, O Lord, how long?
We are all strangers.
All we have is each other. We are all God’s children. Why do we seek any and all excuses to not bless or show love? What is wrong with us? Oh god, my God. He is not “my Father”–He is every and only Our Father. Our Father, the father to prodigals. The father to wanderers seeking a homeland and a city whose builder is God.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, we sinners.
When Elijah called for fire from heaven, it devoured wicked men.
Jesus came. John the Baptist said He would bring fire and a winnowing fork. Jesus foretold a flame. “I wish it was already kindled,” He said.
What kind of flame?
When some Samaritans spurned the word of Jesus and His students, John and James asked if they could call down fire on the Samaritans, like Elijah did long ago. This is who God is, right?
Jesus said, “You do not know what kind of spirit is speaking to you.”
It wasn’t God talking to John and James, telling them to burn men and women for scorning the Word of God made flesh. Jesus would bring fire, but not the fire of Elijah. After He ascended, the Fire fell, the Spirit spoke. The Fire filled vessels of clay and filled them with the Light. It transformed, taught, healed, exorcised.
It was the Devil who said, “I came to kill, to steal, and to destroy.”
Jesus did not say that. He will NEVER say that.
Recently I read Rachel Held Evans’ post on the Akedah (Binding of Isaac) and it spurred some thoughts. (Sidenote: I also learned she was baptized in Alabama! A fellow former fundylander.) In former days, I simply accepted the idea that God would ask someone to kill their son for Him. The implication that God occasionally asks people to kill their children did not seem problematic to me ( it probably still wouldn’t if I was a Calvinist). But now I don’t think that’s the case. Many rabbis believed Abraham should have questioned God; that was the point of the test. Abraham’s faith is commendable still: after all, he believed this strange god of his would resurrect/restore/whatever his son back to him regardless.
I cannot accept, will not accept, that the God who was Jesus would ever utter: “Kill your child for me.”
Remember, Abraham had no Scriptures or stories beyond his own to go on for his god. Only the God’s promises and trustworthiness He had shown in the past. This strange God that wore a man’s shape in the day. That ate and drank in a mortal creature’s tent in the wilds. That called a human a friend, and told him of the God’s plans, comings, and goings.
When Abraham’s God came down to examine Sodom and Gomorrah it is Abraham who argues/asks for mercy to be shown on the denizens of the land. Abraham is an intercessor, but I also think he was trying to see what kind of god to whom he had sworn himself. Is this god curious about justice? Mercy? Is He cruel?
No. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Let us hope so.
Yet when God puts Abraham on trial ( perhaps to ask Abraham, “What kind of god do you think I am? Are you my friend, like you were regarding Sodom and Gomorrah? Or will you act like a slave?”) Abraham makes no intercession in the narrative. He questions nothing, unlike when he questioned God’s plans regarding Sodom and Gomorrah. “Ah, this god keeps His promises, but demands much. He kills as the other gods. Yet…I know He keeps His promises. He promised me Isaac. Whatever happens next, He will keep His word. He will return my son to me.” The Nobel winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel says something along the lines that Jews have a right and obligation to argue with their God. We wrestle with the Scriptures and stories, trying to draw God’s face.
Abraham and Isaac go together. They come to Moriah together. They ascend the mountain together.
They do not descend the mountain together (go read it; the implications make me shiver). Read Isaac’s story. He is never as close to the God as his father was. Nor as close as Jacob will become. He is only the Fear of Isaac. A strange god who keeps promises.
If a voice from heaven told me to kill a child, I would not. That’s not god. We know that now, because we have the full revelation of God: Jesus. My God doesn’t ask parents to kill their children.
If that’s who God really is, I’d rather go to hell.
I’ll start you off with some basic information: I was born, raised, and live in northwestern Alabama. Born to an ex-Catholic ex-TMer ex-Baptist ex-Pentecostal current Baptist mother and ex-none current Bapticostal father. I was raised in fundamentalism and am now an accepter ( I hate calling it “believer”) of evolution, orthodoxy, ritual, etc. I’ve been washed off dispensationalism and haven’t believed in the Rapture for a long time.
I believe in the Trinity. The Resurrection. The Second Coming. The Reconciliation of All Things.
And now, a little honesty: I wanted to start to write about this little corner I live in. Where Conservatism and Republicans are God’s emissaries. Where welfare for our neighbor is snarled at if “the government does it.” Where cursing puts you out of a church but the n-word is just plain ol’ conversation. Where accepting scientific consensus is heresy. Where God is a magician. My heart breaks for this and more.
And I wonder, if more people knew what I believed…if I was braver…would my ordination be stripped from me? Would I be allowed to speak of the Scriptures and my God from behind a pulpit? Would me not hating Democrats or admiring aspects of socialism make me a pariah?
Honestly, I am afraid.
But I cannot confine my sentiments anymore, so this blog (hopefully) will be a vent for me. Besides, wouldn’t you like an inside look at southern fundies from a former insider? I hope you do.