Thoughts on walls and bans and fear.

I look around the world and my heart breaks. I feel so useless. I'm far away and I can't do anything. But I can write. So let me use this space to tell you my feelings.

There is a lot of angry talk about Christians on the Internet today. Because this executive order from Trump, banning people from seven countries, even if they have legal visas and green cards, has language in it that specifically mentions religion. A Muslim ban. He has denied that it is a Muslim ban, but if it looks like a Muslim ban, sounds like a Muslim ban, and has the effect of banning people only from Muslim countries, it may just be a Muslim ban.

Besides the fact that these ideas don't make any sense, and are succeeding in keeping out good people who are refugees or green card holders who are members of American society, (and don't get me started on my precious friends from Iran, and the Muslims I love) I wanted to talk about how Trump's ideas hold up through a Christian lens.

The anger against Christians that I see is justified, if Christians are people who target other religions and make walls to keep out refugees. This is inhumane.

But thankfully, it is also not Christianity. If you are a Christian, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Because this is not yours to own. You don't need to defend these actions. You can actively refute them, deny them, resist them, and act in the opposite spirit. 

There was a change, in the Bible. In the beginning, there was a time when God was making a nation for himself to display his goodness in the world. This was Israel. This was the promise and the land and the law. And it was beautiful, in its time. It was true and righteous. And then Jesus came. And the whole amazing power of Jesus's message is that it changes. It turns inward. It changes from "nation" to "many nations." The New Testament is not the same as the First Testament. It travels along, goes deeper, goes farther. 

Perhaps there was a time that the majority of people in America were Christian. I wouldn't say it did a whole lot for America as a whole, racism flourished and the poor went unfed. But let's drop that desire. Let's let it go. The idea of getting back to a "Christian nation" is entirely unbiblical. I heartily disagree with the idea that it ever existed (let's ask African slaves and indigenous people about how Christian the forefathers were), but whatever it is, and this idea is many things; fearful, exclusive, powerful, shrewd as political agenda; it is not biblical.

The Christians of the Bible were told how to live and love in places where they were the minority and often oppressed. They wrote the book on how to suffer gladly. How to live in peace among people who believed differently. The people in their cities worshiped gods by abusing temple prostitutes, and the Christians were told to "live peaceably with all." 

All the words to Christians were about how to live while being hurt or persecuted. The words all had something to do with love, how to live in love. "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink." The other advice was about how to live within, how to be transformed, elevated, brought into a new way of life from the inside. 

What different times we are in now. As Christians, we have so much power, so much wealth, so much more voice. We have such power, we can hurt so many, so quickly. By making this about fear, about some idea of a nation that we remember (falsely, I believe) as moral and Christian, we risk losing everything transcendent about our faith, our foolishly un-self-protective, radical faith that is based on a brilliant, loving, accepting God-man who allowed himself to be killed to open doors to the whole world. We do not serve him well when we live in fear and allow our fear to direct us.

We are not meant to champion some "safe," exclusive way of being in the world. Walls can't do anything to keep us from harm, because all the evil in the world is right here with us. Poverty exists in our hearts and fear of poverty causes us to be stingy with others. Fear of the unknown, fear of others, causes us to sin by being unloving. This is not how we are meant to reflect the holy, tender, sacrificial light of Jesus. We are meant to embrace, to love, to offer help. We are meant to love foolishly, at times when we may even be hurt because of our love. We can't lose this about ourselves. It is the only thing we should be afraid of.