One Nation Under God

** This post has some ‘fanciful’ moments where I speak in ways that are not reflective of my personal thoughts. Please be mindful of this as you read.  Not all the words in this post reflect my own opinions.

 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (NRSV)

This is the United States of America, and we are a Christian nation.

Okay, not really.  We might have been founded by Christians, but we were also founded on the precept of religious freedom.  We are a nation where people are free to worship as they please, or not worship at all.

Some people in this nation are Christian, some are Buddhist, some are Muslim, some are Sikh, some are Baha’i, some are spiritual but not religious, and some are atheists or agnostics who proclaim no faith at all.

For just a moment, though, let’s pretend that we live in a Christian nation governed by Christian values.  Let’s pretend that we are one Christian nation under a Christian God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

What would that mean and what would that look like?

John 13:34-35 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NRSV)

Okay, I guess it starts with love.  We must love one another.  I think we see Christian love for one another in this country; moments when our love for one another prompts great acts of kindness and sacrifice.  People traveled from all across the nation to help the people of New Orleans rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.  People all over the nation lined up to give blood for what we hoped would be the survivors of 9/11.  Firefighters nationwide volunteer every year to go and risk their lives to fight fires in parts of the West that are being overrun with brush fires. Just this week a number of celebrities including Jimmy Fallon and Cher have sent donations of bottled water to the people of Flint, Michigan. A satirical article about the rock group Insane Clown Posse sending a truckload of Faygo soda (a favorite soda of the band) to the people of Flint, Michigan led to fans of the band organizing a bottled water drive because they felt led to counter satire with genuine charitable action.

These are a few examples of the daily goodness that flows freely from the American people to their brothers and sisters, and yet…

Have you watched the news lately?  Have you seen the political rhetoric that fills the news broadcasts? What am I to say when Donald Trump says that he wants to ban Muslims from entering our country?  How do I respond to reports that many of our presidential candidates speak ill of the Syrian refugees who seek asylum in our country?  What am I to think of the suggestion that we build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants from Mexico from crossing our borders in search of employment?

Can we be a Christian nation if we seek to exclude those people who seek our borders for protection and economic stability?  What happens when we sacrifice only for the people already inside our borders?  I don’t know what to think anymore.

And so I meditate on the Scriptures while simultaneously letting my mind drift into the ether to sniff at the rhetoric that is posted on the Internet and broadcast on the nightly news…

1 Cor 13:3 “If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (NRSV)

Certainly Jesus must understand that we cannot support an unlimited population of immigrants who want to get fat off of our resources and our kindness; He cannot possibly expect us to sit by and let people stream across our borders who only have their own self-interests at heart.

We cannot be expected to accept an endless stream of immigrants from countries that are hostile to our way of life.  These people don’t care what they are doing to our economy or to our people; in fact, they want to kill us!  These Syrian people are just a bunch of ISIS insurgents in disguise and they will kill us if we give them the chance.  Why should I care if they destroyed their own nation?  Sure, some of them are innocent, but you know that there are ISIS members hiding in the ranks of refugees, waiting to get inside the US so that they can inflict as much damage as possible.

I Cor 13:4-8a “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (NRSV)

Oh, please!  I’m supposed to LOVE them? They HATE us!  They don’t wish us well.  They wish that we’d all die and fall off the face of the earth so that they can take our country!  They want to exterminate us as if we were cockroaches in their kitchen. So what if some of them are children who are starving and in dire need of medical care? So what if there are families who are just looking for a peaceful place to raise their children?  So what if they are supposedly God-loving Muslims who also believe that Jesus was a prophet of God?

They aren’t like us and I don’t have to let them into my precious country!

John 13:34-35 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NRSV)

It’s always good when the Word of God brings me back to reality.

When Jesus said that we should love one another, He didn’t put any limitations on this.  He didn’t put national borders on the command to love one another. He didn’t put any religious limitations on the command to love one another.  He didn’t put any skin colors or ethnic backgrounds into the mix, either.

In fact, when Jesus ordered us to love one another, He didn’t specify genders, sexual orientations, national backgrounds, ethnicities, or religious limitations.  What Jesus said was that people would know we are Christians by the way that we love one another…without any limitations on the ‘other’ person or who they might be.

If we want to be considered a Christian nation, then we have to start following Jesus’ example.

We have to practice the commands that Jesus gave us, and that command is to Love. One. Another.

We are to love one another without limitation, without reason, and without a litmus test for who deserves to be loved.  We have to love one another the way that Jesus loved us.

I Cor 13:13  “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (NRSV)

Take that, Mr. Trump.

 

 

 

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