I was so thankful to participate in The Justice Conference simulcast a couple weekends ago. Like the previous year, my heart was broken, encouraged, and transformed as I listened to the speakers who shared their stories and the work of justice that God is doing all over the world. Let there be no doubt, pursuing justice is difficult. It often takes long-term commitments, sometimes with very little visible results and that can be discouraging. So why do it? Why pursue justice?
I first wrote about the topic of immigration during the racial reconciliation series in 2012. In the post simply titled “Immigration,” I wrestled with my concerns as a Christian. Since that time, I have been paying attention to the many evangelical leaders who understand that immigration is a biblical justice issue and are therefore working to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.
Today I am thankful for this thoughtful post from fellow Redbud, Catherine McNiel, as she writes about immigration and loving her neighbors. Welcome, Catherine!
Jesus taught that all of Scripture could be summed up by the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” He then used a parable to explain that “neighbor” doesn’t just mean those living next door, but anyone we encounter in need.
Where I live, most of my neighbors are immigrants, many of them both recent and undocumented. This means that in both the literal and figurative sense of Jesus’ command, the undocumented immigrant is my neighbor. I am commanded to love my undocumented neighbor just as earnestly and faithfully as I love God himself.
For many in the United States, immigration is a justice issue, but an abstract one. In the current events of our nation we are debating how to proceed in a way that provides justice both from them and for them.
For my family, immigration is not an abstract question. The often anonymous, theoretical group labeled “undocumented immigrants” are our flesh and blood friends, neighbors, classmates, and schoolmates. We rub shoulders at the grocery store, library, and park. We worship with them in church and visit in each other’s houses. And let me tell you – when you are sitting in a person’s home, hearing their stories, sharing their food and their life – injustice stops being abstract right away.
I’m so excited to have my dear friend, Suzanne Burden, share on the blog today about gender reconciliation and it’s connection to justice:
I have said it myself. And I am blessed to say that I attend a church where I regularly hear sermons on racial reconciliation, on peacemaking as the Christian’s calling, even on immigration reform and providing resources and healing ministries for deeply terrorized people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And each of these sermons is set in the context of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this I praise God. I hear echoes of Jesus’ Kingdom mission through the words of our pastor: “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19 NIV 2011).