Thursday, April 29, 2010

Prayer For Humility

God of mercy and grace, teach us to love how you love and who you love. Teach us to remember that we ourselves were aliens once and teach us to stand with those who are unwanted and with those who suffer. We know that you stand with widows, with orphans, and with immigrants. Teach us to take up our cross and stand with you and with those with whom you stand. Teach us the humility that is necessary for us to see outside ourselves and yet to also examine ourselves. Show us our own sin so that we might judge no more the sins of others. You have redeemed us, teach us to be redeemed. In the name of him who refused to be separated from us. Amen.

5 comments:

Bo Grimes said...

Amen, but which I literally mean, I agree and beseech God with you.

I do, however, believe there is a distinction between the Church Universal and national policy.

As Christians, the true Jews, the command in Leviticus 19:34 is also commanded of us: "The alien who resides among you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God."

Likewise Hebrews 13:2: "2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."

This is how the Church should act, and pray.

That does not mean God's left hand, the State, does not have an obligation to protect its citizens or enforce the laws, nor does it mean Biblical commands given to God's people should be encoded into immigration policy.

WES ELLIS said...

I don't think God's left hand would work in opposition to his right...

Bo Grimes said...

Of course not. I'm Lutheran. And Luther took Augustine's two cities and revamped them as the two kingdoms. Neither even even hinted that Caesar should be Samuel.

What did I write that even implied that God works at cross-purposes to Himself? So you want a theocracy? Congress just needs to pass a law that says Torah shall be law and go home?

For goodness sakes it's almost impossible to get a reasonable, non-posturing, open dialog going on the internet even with one's brothers.

WES ELLIS said...

Bo,

I'm sorry you felt frustrated by my response. I didn't mean anything by it. Let me simply explain.

If God is in solidarity with the poor and with immigrants, and the government passes a law that is unjust toward immigrants, then God would be "cross-purposing" himself. (hence, the left hand, right hand comment). I don't want a theocracy (although I think that word is a bit muddled in light of the principals of democracy) but as long as we have a voice which can do so, we should call the government to justice (which will, no doubt, be informed by our theological perspectives).

As a body (the body of Christ), quite distinct from the state, the church must open itself to immigrants for Jesus has no borders. And the state needs to find just immigration laws. I can't compartmentalize my faith enough to not be heartbroken as the government labels human beings as "illegals" and sends them into poverty as though they (human beings) are not the governments problem. Whatever the state does, people are the church's "problem." Therefore, until the Kingdom of God replaces the systems of the world, we will always be at odds with the governments of the world. For we live in Christ's reign until all the systems are placed under his feet (1 Cor 15). We, the church, are calling God's future into our present.

This conversation makes me want to re-read "Torture and Eucharist" by William Cavanaugh... I recommend it to you.

Thanks for the comments Bo. I hope you see and share my tension in these issues and I hope that you'll continue to pray with me for humility, for justice, and for compassion.

Bo Grimes said...

Thank you. I was beginning to wonder from the seeming snap judgement on my comments if you were the one who actually wrote: "We're going to have to embrace a great deal of humility in order to really listen."

I share the tensions that you do. We should be Christ to them, and we should call on our government to create just policies.

But those just policies have to take into account justice for the citizen. Forget popular sovereignty; only God is sovereign, and He established the US government (whether they know it or not) to govern US citizens.

According to Luther concerning authority, Luther argues first that it is established [by God] to provide order and maintain the peace. Second, it must wield the sword with justice and according to the statues and laws of the nation.

No government has ever been the source for God's redemptive, social transformative work. That's not its function. That is the task of His Church.

Jesus' command for me to give my cloak to someone who asks for my shirt is not a command for me to give my cloak to the government so they can give it to another.

In an interview in 2004, N. T. Wright addressed this kind of thinking:

"I've sometimes hypothesized, what if someone were to say to Paul: "Well, according to your principle of love, all God's people should share their possessions with one another. Therefore, some of us in the church think that we should help this process on the way by going into our neighbors' houses and helping ourselves to whatever we fancy, thus liberating these objects from the spurious idea of possession." You can imagine someone might say, "Well, some of us believe in theft and others don't, so let's not judge one another."

As long as we have legitimate laws, the State has to enforce them. As a Christian I will minister to a resident alien, but I will not hire him or help him get here.