This morning I stood looking out my window, the blue sky hidden behind low, gray clouds.
My eyes rest on a church steeple not two blocks away from my window, a cross crowning the top that points toward the heavens.... A symbolic reminder to keep my gaze fixed on the things above. The things to come. The joy that is set before us who know our Shepherd.
The hot air of rooftop chimneys meets with the cold and turns into a white vapor. I watch as a small flock of pigeons circle the cross-crowned steeple. And a song begins to emerge out of my living room speakers: "...even so come, Lord Jesus, come."
My mind wanders to those planes. Planes full of hearts racing with the adrenaline that comes when long-awaited joy is about to culminate. The faces glued to the windows as rubber meets asphalt. Lives on the cusp of reunion, reinvention, relief.
Yet lives that are desperate, perhaps unknowingly, for a reunion filled with joy that will never fade. Reinvention that will be perfect and holy. Relief that is secure, unbreakable, permanent.
Our country, our culture values national security more. And when we, the United States, stand for national security, in much the same way we as individuals should replace the word "national" with "personal." Because we, as individuals, have created a culture that strives for personal security first.
America first. Me first.
We are angry with our president. Rightly so. But are we, the people, so different? More specifically, am I?
When Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and "love your enemies," does that provoke me as much as when the president says no to refugees?
I might argue. I might say that I would never reject someone because they're Muslim (or fill in the blank). But what about my enemy? What about the person who has wronged me? And for some of us, that could just be the person who unfollowed us on Instagram.
And while I believe it right to actively seek justice where justice is lacking, shouldn't it start with me? Isn't justice loving my neighbor? My enemy?
I think Gandhi had a lot of wisdom, and something he said once has really struck me even though I've heard it hundreds of times: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
But being the change means going against the cultural norm. It means saying no to things that the majority approve. It means saying yes to things that might ostracize me from my "groups" (my west coast group, white group, lower middle class group, even Christian group).
I have spent my life, most often with the (sub)conscious worldview of me first, and my best interest.
So if I want to see things change, than my self-serving "me first" worldview needs to become "me first... to change" for the sake of my neighbor and my enemy. For their best interests. So they might see Jesus.
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:14-21
".... By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35