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Posts Tagged ‘alien’

Ok, so I borrowed that line.

I share the sentiment though.
A while back I wrote this post about the Alien, Orphan, and Widow.  While it arose chiefly out of the congealing of revelation in the nebulae that is my thought process, it did have something to do with the way I've perceived Christians responding to the question of immigration.
So now I've really had it.
There have been one too many people saying something of a derogatory nature about the hispanic immigrants in our area. There have also been one too many positive comments about the Arizona law. 
There is a whole list of things that trouble me about this.  
At the top of the list:
     1.  I know first hand how hard it is to immigrate to another country just because you want to live there.  I can't imagine how much worse it would be if a) I lived in poverty and b) I had little education.  These are things I can't forget as I look at the immigration situation we face today. I can understand, even as I don't endorse, someone trying another way around the system.
     2.  The people I'm hearing make such a noise are people who are very good at using scripture to justify their positions on a regular basis. However they have yet to do it for this issue.
The reason they haven't is that, inherently, this position is very anti scripture.  And as those who forget history are doomed to repeat it I thought I'd do something.
This week my status updates on facebook are going to just be bible verses which talk about how we are to treat the 'alien' among us.  I'm intrigued to see what conversation it triggers.  I'll probably cross post the verses here.
Todays is from everybody's favorite book Leviticus.

Leviticus 19:33-34 " 'When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."

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Lately I've been very interested with practical faith.  Faith that isn't just lived in a hypothetical situation or philosophical space, rather faith that has feet and action:  Faith that is not played out in rhetoric or spent fighting enemies. But rather, a faith lived out in the day to day actions of, in the words of Michael Frost, “life rubbing against life”. 

This is something that is becoming more and more important to me.  I’ve been exploring the idea that God is a Sent and Sending God.  That in God’s DNA is Love; Love that is the investing of one life in another.  God sent.  He [1] sent his word, he sent his son, he sent the spirit, and he sent himself.  Therefore, if we’re going to become like God, like Jesus, the idea of ‘sentness’ cannot be ignored. And sentness isn’t just the idea of going to a far off country on a mission trip of some duration or another, but the idea of choosing to be love where we are.  Rubbing Life against Life.  Investing our lives into the lives of others. Doing it to see them become who they’re created to be, connected to God in a vibrant and creative way, not just carbon copies of our religious ideals.  The very fact that we’ve lost sight of this in Western Church culture plays a major role in how church got to be so inconsequential.  We created a ghetto of our lives.  Caring for those inside the holy walls and making sure that we’re comfortable.  We care about the people who aren’t “Christian” but do in with this “Come into our special place” kind of way.  We invite in, but do not allow ourselves to be sent. 

This pondering has led me to a very interesting discovery.  I’ve been revisiting all the places where it made very clear to those attempting to follow God that there were particular people that we were to care for.  Over and over, in the Old and New Testaments we are given the mandate to care for the Alien, the Orphan, and the Widow.  James 1:27 “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” Exodus 22: 21-22 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan” Zachariah 7:10 “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien, or the poor. In your hearts do no think evil of each other” It’s simple to see that the face value meaning of this is very beneficial. We, if we want to be following in the footsteps of Jesus, are to be about caring for those who are the most vulnerable, the ones who have no natural place of belonging, the ones easily forgotten, and the ones with no protection. This week, however, I began to see that this isn’t the only meaning to this mandate.

Over my lifetime of being in church I’ve found that there are several scripturally based metaphors used to describe the people who have chosen to follow Jesus.  Three prominent ones directly relate to what I’ve just been talking about.

Bride:  From the allegorical interpretation of Song of Songs, to verbal pictures painted by prophets calling a people back to their first love, to an apostle speaking about the mysteries of sexuality and union, to a Revelation on the Island of Patmos there is a stream of consciousness that likens the church (in the global sense) to a bride.  The Bride of Christ, to be precise.  This, in its most basic state, is showing the special and unique connection between the church and Jesus. 

Adoption:  In many scriptures there is a discussion of our adoption by God. As we choose to follow Jesus we become a part of the family.  Check out John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave the rights to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God. And Romans 8 and 9 speaking all about becoming children of God, or being adopted.  The idea is that in God’s house we’re all family.  Not in any kind of physical or legal way, but beyond that, Spirit united family.  Stronger than any other ties.

Nation: This is perhaps the strongest and most pervasive metaphor throughout scripture.  From the beginning, God took a wandering group and made a proper nation out of them; a Nation that had God at the center and was to be blessed so that through them all the rest of the world could be touched with who God was.  They kind of missed the point, and had lots of wanderings and exiles while God was trying to teach them.  They still didn’t get it, so he sent himself in flesh and blood. Jesus continued the lesson.  “Listen up. This kingdom is Right Here. Right Now!”  [2] This lesson continued in the early church.  The apostle Peter reminded his brothers in 1 Peter 2:9-10. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God: once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

 

Are you seeing the connections I’m seeing? 

Bride-Widow

Adoption-Orphan

Nation-Alien

 

Far from believing that we should ignore the face value explanation of these verses, I think we should take it both ways.  We are meant to care for the physically Alien (people on the fringes, those who don’t seem to belong) Orphan (including kids ignored by parents more concerned with satisfying their own desires, those abandoned by disease, addiction, war, desperation and divorce) and Widows (including adults left by partners, from divorce, to death). However we’re also, in the journey to become like Jesus, to care for those who aren’t here yet, those not yet a part of the community of faith that becomes Bride, Family, and People. To provide for their every need (physical, emotional, psychological, and sociological) with Gentleness and Respect [3].  Love [4]!  Invest our very lives in them.  Bless the Alien, Orphan, and Widow, who we once were.

 

What do you guys think?  Does that connect in your mind and heart as well? If it is true, what does this mean for the way we live?

 

  1. Recognizing that God is neither Male nor Female, but is also both.  He is used as there is not another appropriate English word to communicate the uniting of gender neutral and gender inclusive (and much more besides) that is God.
  2. Just read the one of the gospels.  Mark is the shortest.  Matthew refers to the Kingdom about 30 some odd times.
  3. 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for this hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect"
  4. 1 Corinthians  13:4-9 “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

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