When we begin to talk about these and other conflicts, emotions can quickly rise to the top bringing with them emphatically stated positions from which we find it nearly impossible to back away from, i.e. "All Muslims are evil." Often such positions are inaccurate or predicated on pre-conceived notions. We cannot ignore the conflicts around the world and pull our heads in like a turtle hiding from it's enemy. Our faith in God through Jesus Christ won't allow that.
God calls us to rise above the culture around us not because we are better or have a better way, but in such a way that we can activate God's grace in difficult or negative situations. If one takes to heart the words of Jesus throughout his ministry, the call is unmistakable. Consider some of his commands:
- Matt 22:36-40 the greatest commandment: Love the Lord, Your God... and Love your neighbor as yourself
- Mark 11:25-26: When you pray FORGIVE others
- John 15:4: Remain in me
- Matthew 5:29-30: Get rid of whatever causes you to sin
- Matthew 25:34-36: Care for those in distress
- Matthew 10:1, 8: Exercise spiritual power - heal disease and sickness - freely you have received, freely give.
- Matthew 23:8-12: Do not exalt yourself above others
- Mark 11:22-24: Have COMPLETE faith in God
- Luke 10:30-35: Do as the Samaritan has done
- Matthew 28:19-20: GO, Make Disciples of ALL people
- John 14:15: Obey what I command
- Luke 6:36: Be merciful
There are others, but I think you get the idea, God wants us to act spiritually not worldly. He said, "I do not give as the world gives." At no other time in history have we experienced the reality that we are all neighbors. World wide communications allows us to see, real-time, the bloodiness of war, the inhumanity of some people and the mercy and compassion of others. We still try to divide and claim that the "other" is not our problem and we state, "let them work it out on their own."
Yet, God invites us to share our lives with others and unless we learn to set aside our prejudice and preconceptions we'll never live up to God's invitation. One of the key events that calls to me is the "unaccompanied children" coming across the border. Politics may dictate heated arguments and debate but while that is occurring, parents are sending their children away from hopelessness to seek hope. I cannot imagine what level of hopelessness would drive a father to send his child on a thousand-mile journey. Let's debate and ponder and seek answers for border issues. Let's continue debating and working toward immigration reform in a just way. But let's not let children become the pawns - ignored and locked away on military bases. They deserve more grace and love than that.
Let us first pray for them and their families, for reunification. Let us pray for leaders to be wise and use good judgment as they negotiate with other countries. Let us pray for greater freedom and democracy in Latin America. Then let us seek ways to care for those who can't go home and for homes to be opened for them. The prayer work is never futile and always returns more than we ask because God is a God of abundance, not scarcity. God surprise us with opportunity.