I’d like to share a powerful piece of writing by a colleague. Stacy Martin, our Vice President for External Relations, has penned a striking reflection on “five signature gifts of faith Christians can offer to the conversation and to the work ahead” on immigration reform.
Her piece, “A Community of Strangers,” appears in the September-October edition of Sojourners Magazine. It begins with these familiar words:
When the Pharisees heard that [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” —Matthew 22:34-40
She goes on to remind us:
Embodying the commandments is essential to the Christian faith. Perhaps that’s what makes Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:34-40 so difficult to swallow. Much of what Jesus says is bothersome not only to the caricatures of Pharisees and Sadducees in the gospels, but also to each of us as we continue to discern what it means to be faithful followers of God.
U.S. citizens aren’t the only ones who can morph a four-page Constitution into some 800,000-odd pages of codified law. By the time we get to the first century when Jesus lived, the Ten Commandments had been expanded into hundreds of separate rules and regulations.
It may seem more complicated, but it’s easier to live as a sort of automaton merely following rules: Clean and unclean. In and out. Good and bad. Saved and unsaved. Black and white. Legal and illegal.
Religion can become a tool, a moral code by which to measure good citizenship. But Jesus reminds the crowd that life is not clear-cut. He seems to simplify the faith that people worked so hard to make complex. But as is often the case with what Jesus says, it isn’t so simple.
Jesus invites us to see the world not through the lens of a “must do” list or as a moral imperative that we are to guilt others into following, but to see life in all its complexity and grayness.
She examines what Christians can bring to the conversation around immigration reform, identifying the five key elements of grace, relationship, acceptance, forgiveness, and community. In the process, she makes some important observations about “what we bring to the table … which is at once uniquely Christian and incredibly universal.”
I invite you to read the entire piece by clicking on the headline above. Please help spread the word by Liking and Sharing it via Facebook and other social media, and by sending the link to your friends, colleagues, and family members.
I’d like to thank Stacy for writing this thought-provoking and moving piece, and express my gratitude to Sojourners Magazine for offering it to their readers. Let’s all continue to Stand for Welcome and fair and compassionate immigration reform!