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Photo: Kayle Kaupanger
If you are looking for part one, you can find it here.
Shook: (shook: shocked or surprise; can’t believe what you are seeing).
Recently I was part of a very… interesting conversation on social media. It was in the comments section on a Catholic social media page (pretty sure that’s where Satan spends his free time- do better than me and stay away from the comments). The post related the lack of protection of immigrants to the lack of protection for the unborn, depicting an ultrasound with the text “I am undocumented, where is my sanctuary?”. Naturally, I found this interesting as I am passionate about both the pro-life movement and protections for immigrants.
I left a comment saying that I hope people are fighting for the rights of both of these groups, and I had no idea what a fire storm that would start. Of course there was the typical anti-immigrant “why don’t they just get in line, they want to steal our jobs” rhetoric, but there was one comment that really struck a chord with me. The person, a Christian, replied directly to me with, “An outsider does not deserve the same liberties. We must remain an in-group preference.” Now, I typically avoid the strange slang words kids throw around (I pride myself in being stronger than the pressures of the YOLO trend) but the only way I can think to explain my reaction is that I was shook. I had a few immediate questions:
- Who is an outsider in Christ’s world?
- Even if someone is an outsider, why do we deserve liberty but not them?
- In-group preference???? What??? Has this guy read the same bible as me??? Does he know the same Jesus as me??? Are there two Jesuses and I never knew??? Why is this second Jesus such a jerk???
But most importantly, do Christians really think like this?
Who Is An Outsider?
In many of my college courses I have come across this ideal called “el otro” or “the other”. This is used to identify anyone who is different. This can mean that they have a different skin color, they come from a different place, they practice a different religion, anything really. Often times, someone being “el otro” makes them scary, less human, or undesirable. They’re an outsider. In this situation, immigrants are the outsiders, los otros. They are not (born) Americans, they are not “from here”. If your primary identity is an American, this may seem significant. But if your primary identity is a Christian, a child of God, this should not matter. So, as a child of God, who is el otro?
Honestly, the only answer I can think of is the enemy (the devil).
There are strangers, people we do not know yet, people from different places, but nobody is an outsider in the church of God. There is not one single human whom God does not love. Therefore, there is not one single person whom we should not love. One thing that I always have to remind myself is that God loves all of us equally. God does not love someone more because they are white, because they are Christian, or because they are documented. We are all His children, He loves us all equally, so in Christ’s world, nobody is an outsider.
This part of the comment “…do not deserve the same liberties” reminded me of the Pharisees (okay, this whole comment reminds me of them, but this part in particular). Think of the times when Jesus would spend time with sinners and the Pharisees would be upset by it. For example, in Matthew 9:10-11 we see that Jesus had a dinner at Matthews house, and ate with sinners and tax collectors, and the Pharisees asked Matthew why Jesus would eat with those types of people. Clearly, they thought that these people did not deserve to eat with Jesus. Yet, as we see when Jesus saves the woman who was caught in adultery, He knows that none of us are without sin. We all deserve His love.
I am a big supporter of human rights (I mean, shouldn’t we all be?) and these rights, as human rights, are not earned or “deserved”. In order to deserve the human rights of seeking asylum, family, freedom from discrimination, equality before the law, worker’s rights, education, and an adequate standard of living (and all the other human rights) one need only to exist. Nowhere in the Universal Declaration of Human rights does it say “*note: undocumented immigrants do not deserve these rights“. So, no, one group is not more deserving of liberties than another. Every single human deserves human rights, liberties, and the love of God.
Why Is This Other Jesus Such a Jerk?
Okay, so obviously I am aware that there is only ONE Jesus. Just to put that out there, in case anyone was skeptical. On the other hand, I seem to notice two different types of Christians in the social and political world: those who focus on rules and those who focus on mercy. You see both of these groups in almost every issue- especially hot button issues like immigration or homosexuality. There are those who are willing to stand on the street corner with signs like “God hates fags” (newsflash: He doesn’t), and those who will work to make members of the LGBTQ+ community feel welcomed in the church. Which group do you think that Jesus would have been a part of? (Hint: read the story about the woman caught in adultery)
“But there’s rules”
I understand this. I am not saying we should throw all rules and doctrines out the window and have a big party, but rather that we should think about our roles in society. The best way to do this is to look at the bigger picture: salvation. If you are fighting for your soul and the soul of others, what is the best battle plan? Attacking your comrades or showing them the way?
If you want to be the light of Christ and get others to follow him, telling them that they are doing everything wrong is just not the way. Especially with people who do not believe in Christ or have a strong faith foundation, we must focus first on love and mercy, not throw the rule book at them. Before you share an opinion or act on something political, ask yourself “Am I acting as Jesus did? Am I showing mercy and compassion?” If your response is something like “well, its tough love!” reevaluate what you are doing. Are they ready for this “tough love” or will it only turn them off God and scare them away?
Do Christians Really Think Like This?
Unfortunately, the short answer to this is yes, some do. Automatically I want to jump into defense mode with this and shout from the rooftops “Not all Christians!” but I realize that this brings no comfort, and changes nobody’s mind. Instead, I want people to understand that this type of prejudice and anger that some Christians do have is not rooted in their Christianity. As much as they might like to throw around out of context bible verses and church documents, Jesus Christ did not teach them this. Jesus taught us that nobody is an outsider, everyone deserves God’s love, and that mercy and compassion come first.
If you compare the Old Testament God to the New Testament Jesus, you see the emphasis that was placed on mercy and compassion when Jesus came. The fundamental rules still applied, but they were reevaluated and the senseless ones were gotten rid of. Jesus broke the rules when He healed someone on the sabbath, are you going to throw the rule book at him? The Pharisees sure tried to (and Jesus put them in their place). Jesus advocated for breaking the rules when He went against stoning the woman caught in adultery. Now it is one of the most memorable lessons in the bible. Sometimes, rules need to be evaluated. You have been reading for a while though, so I will go into that in part three of this series.
You Are Loved, You Are Welcome, and You Have Support
After evaluating this comment in such depth, I want to emphasize two specific messages, one to all Christians and one to those who are being told, by Christians, that they are outsiders.
To Christians: Show love, show mercy, and show compassion. God will handle everything else, it is not your duty. Nobody is an outsider in the church of God, and everyone is equally deserving of God’s love. Stand up for what you believe in, but do it with compassion.
To los otros: Yes, we are different. We’re all different, in different ways. You are not an outsider. You are loved by me, by many others, and most importantly by the God of the universe. You are welcome in Christian churches, do not let a few people tell you otherwise. Though it may be hard to find us at times, there are plenty of Christians here to support you, pray for you, and walk this journey alongside you.