I was inspired and appalled by two conversations over the past few days.
The bad first…
In a conversation (on Facebook which should never have happened) regarding immigration, I expressed how important it is to consider deeper issues other than simply documented vs undocumented. Issues such as why do people flee their homes for uncertainty and hostility in a new nation? Is home worse? Warsan Shire, a Somali refugee, writes “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark...no one puts a child on a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” He calls our attention not to immigration, but to world events that cause people to flee. I'm not going to offer a solution - but just a small yet stern reminder - always consider humanity in all you say and do.
Well, needless to say, that was met with some harsh resistance. Resistance that would call for a lack of care for humanity by suggestions of dismemberment and bodily harm to people violating immigration law. Further, my suggestion of caring for humanity was taken as insulting and a sign of weakness. I was appalled at how proudly and boldly stated this person’s suggestions were to enact some of the most horrific crimes against humanity.
In a conversation last night, the small but mightily faithful group gathered was challenged by the question “where do you find God?”
In the Bible. In nature. In our children and grandchildren. In theological insight.
The conversation flowed lightly and beautifully as people tried to put a name to where they find the Holy. So many places, so many beautiful references to nature and creation, so much joy in finding the revelation of God.
This morning, however, I was rather disturbed by the contrasts of the two conversations. It was as if a literary genius was at work - helping to define the dark and the light, the good and the evil in two situations on what should have been the same topic - where do you find God?
I was reminded of the words of Victor Hugo from his novel Les Misérables, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” This, coming from a novel that looks at the fine line between law and grace with an overwhelming commentary on redemption.
Could the law of the land be at odds with the grace of God shown forth in Jesus Christ? A question that many a theologian, scholar and even Martin Luther took up.
Yet, I am not so concerned with the answer to that question or what side of a debate a person finds themselves, so much as I am concerned with where people find God. If we are able to find God in our friend’s and family's’ faces...then we are onto something. If we are able to struggle with the more difficult task of finding God in the face of someone that could be described as “the other,” then we are onto something even bigger. We are on the path of growth in our personal spiritual journeys. If we are able to start loving other people, especially those that are different than us (in race, gender, opinion), how could the world change? Could loving one another literally make God’s face appear in every direction? More importantly, how can we, as members of the larger Christian body of Christ, find a way to preach this unbelievable message that in love we find God, in God we find ways to make all things possible?
Enough “what if” questions” and scenarios that find us running circles around theory. Let’s look into a serious question that we should start talking more about:
Where do you find God?
Yours in Christ,