“Did you hear? Did you hear what they did about immigration?” My friend’s eyes were big and troubled.
“No.” I said.
Janira is originally from El Salvador. She has been living in the United States for over 15 years. She works at a hospital, pays taxes, and tries to get by. She is a U.S Citizen and as such has every right to be here.
But like most people in immigrant communities, she has many friends and acquaintances who are undocumented. People who left their countries for a myriad of reasons – drug and gang violence, unemployment, war, and natural disasters are just a few of those reasons.
Janira was referring to the raids carried out on Monday by immigration officials targeting Central American families. I hadn’t heard about them, so I shook my head and just listened.
“It’s terrible,” she said sadly. “They knock on people’s doors and they just take them in the middle of the night. These people…they have nowhere else to go. So hard. These are people from my community. They are not bad people. They have no other choices.”
We talked until the subway came to a shuddering stop and she got up to leave.
“Thank you.” she said.
But I knew I hadn’t done anything but listen.
There are times in our lives where we wonder what God thinks, and then there are other times when it’s as clear as the sky on a cloudless, summer day.
Because I don’t know what the government should do about immigration, but I sure know what the Church should do once the immigrant is among us.
And I don’t know all that the government should and must do about racism, but I know what the Church should do.
And I don’t know all that the government should do about refugees, but I know what the Church should do.
Because, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., the Church is neither master nor servant of the state. The Church is its conscience.
Because the Church is about Christ crucified, Christ risen, and Christ coming again.
Because the voice of God comes with whispers and roars and gentle calls and the words echo through generations because that’s what truth does – truth echoes. Truth will not stay silent. Truth rises up – generation after generation after generation. Truth speaks and hearts are softened.
And the voice of God needs to be heard through the actions of the Church.
And he’s saying this with a mighty roar:
“But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24
And he is saying this with a voice of challenge:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
And he is saying this with a gentle whisper:
“He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien…” Deuteronomy 10:18
And he issues this Call to Obedience:
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”Isaiah 1:17
And he smiles with Joy and says:
“How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times!” Psalm 106:3
To those who would say “We must be practical,” I reply “Every time people try to be ‘practical’ they compromise on the Gospel Message.” Christians in Hitler’s time were just “being practical.” We know what happened. To those who say “But it takes time and money” I reply “I know.” And to those who say “I’m not sure what I think about these issues,” I shake my head and say “But is it really about your political thoughts? Isn’t it supposed to be about what God thinks? When you are the one who is hungry, when you are the one who needs refuge, when you are the one who seeks justice – then you will know exactly what you think about these issues.”
So next time we wonder what God thinks about immigrants, and black lives, and refugees, and the poor, and the oppressed, and the one who suffers, and the one who grieves, remember – his voice is clear and there is no ambiguity in his words.
Because the God of the universe cries this throughout time and it echoes to eternity:
“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8