I continue to sit and consume news about the congressional debate concerning DACA legislation with a fair amount of frustration. I hear rhetoric that dehumanizes, scapegoats, and creates fear. Those around us tell stories of criminals and miscreants in order for to justify the systemic mass expulsion of people from their homes, families, and communities.
I have often felt helpless as I have watched Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities shift towards a policy of indiscriminate immigration enforcement, picking up pastors, mothers, fathers, doctors, professors, and otherwise upstanding members of our community with no other thought than identifying these as “illegals.” There are moments when protesting, calling our representatives, and even pleading seem to fall on deaf ears, and the hope of even accessing the “right ears” seems fruitless. What can we do?
I, however, refuse to grow complacent, and so should we all. This can in many ways be a testing ground for our radical incarnational discipleship, to be Jesus, to complete that which is missing in the sufferings of Christ in our flesh (Col 1:24). Here Paul is speaking of an enacted faith. Or, as 1 John tells us, children of God are not those who believe the right things and have inner faith but those who love, clothe, and feed their brothers and sisters and who do justice.
Let us not fall prey to a hyper-internalized faith (and that is what our Anabaptist fore-bearers fought so hard against!), one that sees Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount plee to examine our insides as a call inward. Jesus was clear, we will be known by our fruit (Luke 6:43-44). As our brothers and sisters face anxiety and deportation, it is good that we are concerned, but our concern alone is not enough. What is our fruit in this situation? Let us not take comfort in having the right stand, but in bringing to completion the sufferings of Christ in our flesh, in acting on behalf of our sisters and brothers.
For us, the bonds of God’s kingdom that unite us and in which we live are greater than the bonds of the kingdoms of this world that divide us.
But what can we do? It all seems to daunting, and I often feel so powerless. One from our own community (Jennifer Hernandez) has co-authored this article for Fuller Studio that begins to address this issue.
I pray that we can find creative ways as a community in this moment to support our DACA and immigrant youth sisters and brothers, both ways inspired by this article and others.
Perhaps this excerpt from the article is a good benediction:
May the church today be as bold and courageous as the church in Acts who, by the power of the Spirit, resisted the authorities and assumed the consequences of doing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. And may we—in Christ—find the unity that overcomes the powers that are working to divide the body of Christ. May God give justice quickly to the many DACAmented and undocumented individuals and their supporters who seek immigration reform at the steps of Congress. And may God find faithfulness in the church, a faithfulness that doesn’t waver but persists in seeking justice for our immigrant sisters and brothers.