Dear Russell & Friends,
This won’t be long or profound. There is no image I borrowed to entice you. It is only a heartfelt response to the last week and the people I love – – my family. My family is now nuclear after the passing of my mother this year preceded six years ago by my father’s death. One wife and three sons. My older brother and I are not close at all. My sister and I love and respect each other, but are not entwined, let alone enmeshed.
This family is the family of Christ.
I call myself a follower of Christ rather than a Christian for reasons that are apparent to any who have tried to unpack the baggage of the latter term. I want to follow the example of Christ as a man, and I acknowledge the divinity of Christ as the firstborn over creation. Perhaps that is the litmus test for a Christian. Is Christ divine? ‘No’ or ‘I don’t know’ are legitimate answers held with integrity by those I consider friends. But, for orientation, my answer is ‘yes’ and now is not the time to argue why. It does, however, identify me as part of the family of Christianity in at least the primary color of its enormous spectrum.
If you’d like to read this post by Russell’s wife, it gets very close to my heart on this. If you choose not to read, I’ll summarize the thesis: she is confused and disappointed by Christians who don’t welcome Syrian refugees or Muslim refugees in general. Further: those who don’t welcome Muslims, or [insert other human here] confuse and disappoint her.
Do I, a member of the family of Christ, share her disappointment?
I do. Deeply so. It is like the disappointment I felt when I first discovered why Southern Baptists were so named. It was like the disappointment that stained my subconscious even after the apology twenty years ago for that evil stance on slavery and racism. How could that be prospectively tolerated 170 years ago then willfully maintained for 150 years? Didn’t my family read the scripture? Didn’t my family think? Didn’t we argue? It was like the disappointment I felt after learning that Martin Luther was a rabid anti-Semite. I thought Jesus was Jewish. What did I miss? How could such a brilliant theologian have such a hateful blind spot?
So, here’s the thing about a family. We will confuse and disappoint each other. We will hold diametrically opposing views at times ensuring that one of us is wrong. I’ve certainly been on the wrong side of many arguments. On this one, I’ll stick to an anchor of scripture:
He has shown you, O mortal, 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
Why would a follower of Christ cast out the refugee? Why would the follower of Christ not welcome a fellow creature of God? Why would the follower of Christ fear death from a bullet or a bomb? I just don’t get it. Isn’t this life to be lived to his glory with gratitude and the next life to be eagerly anticipated?
I love you family – – but you are wrong. The brothers and sisters who want to love, want to accept, want to understand will need to disagree and even fight within the family to keep the family together. Are we not light? It doesn’t feel like it now.
Pascal — 1:16