It was the middle of the night when she ushered her children out into the cold desert air. It would be a tough journey and it would take all their energy to cover the many miles – and with small children it is that much harder. There were also those around them who would do them harm or try to take advantage of them. And, there was the possibility of being caught and having to return to a life of hopelessness and hunger. She is the mother of 3 living in Mexico trying to make her way to the United States. When asked by a film-maker why she would subject her children to a journey that puts their life in danger, she made a heartbreaking reply: “I know that if we make the journey they could die, but if we stay I know they will die.”
This is a woman who married and had children – a biblically encouraged life. She sees little hope for her children so she makes her way across the desert of Arizona – a legally prohibited activity. Can her wrong be seen as right? Do we dismiss the illegal action because of the humanitarian need of a family? And what about the next family? And the next? Therein lies the struggle of the disciples of Jesus Christ who live in a country where opportunity is more readily available than many others – and who live a life economically far above the life of most families in the world today (it’s no wonder people want to be here).
What strikes me most these days is not so much that we allow wrong to be right, but that we also seem to say right is wrong. Does a country have a right to secure its borders? Does a country have a right to enforce its laws? It would seem to some that it does not. When there is talk about securing the border of Arizona with a fence or other deterrent it is often denounced – and by many in the church. When those who have broken the law of the land by entering illegally are identified, some people bristle at the thought of legally detaining or deporting them. So, what I seem to hear is that securing the borders and controlling the flow of people into the country is bad, and then holding people accountable to what seems a reasonable law is inhumane. We denounce those who uphold our laws while seeking to protect those who break our laws – right seems to be wrong and wrong seems to be right.
Then again, would Jesus help build the fence in Arizona? Would he help round-up the law-breaking families and while holding them accountable for their actions send them back to a hopeless future? Would he applaud those who thumb their nose at the law and those who help them?
If I had to guess – and it is a guess – Jesus would simply live with those who feel hopeless and give them hope. If he lived in the U.S. as a member of a middle-class family he might find his way across the border giving up the riches he had to live among those who struggle under the weight of an oppressive and unresponsive government (interesting that we don’t talk much about the social action needed in other counties, actions that could give the citizens of those places real hope for their future in those places).
The reality is that the issue for the followers of Jesus is bigger than the issue of the United States. The problem is we rage against a machine that is not fully responsible for the struggles of families in this country and beyond. It may just be that God is calling the followers of Jesus to live differently. It just may be that the followers of Jesus are being called to forgo the American dream in order to help reveal to the world the hope of the Kingdom of God.
In my opinion, this is not about jumping into the political fray – this is about jumping into the lives of those who live with little hope. It’s about praying the prayer and living the prayer – “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It’s not about declaring wrong to be right, it’s about declaring that the Truth is triumphant. The fate of a mother and her children depend on the followers of Jesus following Jesus.
Thanks for letting me share my struggle – and it remains a struggle. I pray that God will lead us to bring hope to all the world.
Holy high five to you, Mike