It has been a long time since I have written a blog, but the political turmoil we face each day begs the question, where do I stand? With the help of a mentor of mine, Gregory Boyle, and his inspiring book, Tattoos on the Heart, I will explain why I ask the question where I stand, rather than what am I for.
When challenged for my take on any situation, I sit and meditate on what Jesus did. It is more reassuring and comforting than depending on my own wisdom. Jesus was not a man for others, but a man with others. “Jesus did not seek the rights of lepers but touched the leper before he cured them. He did not champion the cause of the outcast; he was one with the outcast. He was not centered on the right stand on issues,” says Greg, “but rather in standing in the right place with the outcast.
We as Christians have an obligation to define clearly what we believe in this world. We need to be active in this world for others to understand what the world of our God looks like. We are not to exclude but include. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that is a huge challenge with the issues that we face today. But, we need to be clear that we speak the words of Jesus and that we desire to love like He did.
Greg tells the story of a number of homeless men sleeping in his church on a Saturday night. Many of these homeless men were undocumented aliens. On each Sunday morning, many of the women of the church do what they can to eliminate the odor left behind. The lingering odor does not quite hide the smell. So many in the church are grumbling about the pervasive reminder of the night before.
So Greg, undaunted by the challenge, ask his church parishioners, “What does the church smell like?” One parishioner yells out, “It smells like feet.” (He was old and really didn’t care what others thought.)
Greg responds, “Why does it smell like feet?” “Because many homeless men slept here last night, and we are committed to helping them,” says one. “It’s what Jesus would do?” says another. The place cheers.
One woman says, “It smells like roses.” The church people roar and laugh, and newfound kinship emerges. You see the stink never changed, just how the people saw it.
I do not believe it is right to let illegal aliens enter this country without going through the proper channels. I also believe our immigration system is broken and needs major surgery, and that as Christians we are called to compassion with others no matter who they are and no matter what they believe and no matter where they came from! We need to dismantle the barriers of exclusion.
Greg says it best, “Compassion is always, at its most authentic, about a shift from the cramped world of self-preoccupation into a more expansive place of fellowship of true kinship…If we love what God loves, then, in compassion, margins get erased.”
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