Taken from the February 2017 edition of the IL/WI Reflector
I am concerned with the level of priority our national leaders are giving to protecting our country. Know that I value safety but the present protectionist ethos seems to give substantial importance to retaining what we have come to believe is rightfully ours. In my humble view, this attitude portrays a sense of selfishness, and, subsequently, leads to greater division within the global human community. Recent protests around the globe in response to certain political maneuvers seem to support my hypothesis. I’ll readily admit that I’m basing my conclusions on observations rather than fully researched and scientifically calculated information. Nevertheless, my concern remains.
An article I read recently points to another way of living which can be summed up in one word: community. The emphasis of community is sharing, not protecting, often at the expense of one’s own tangible welfare. In other words, to live in community, together with each other across all types of human created boundaries, requires of us to let go of what we have come to believe is rightfully ours. One example of this way of living is to invite others into our circle of comfort and safety. Those invited may and quite likely will be from a different place in life, geographically, culturally, theologically, and psychologically. The invitation given to the other is to indicate that they are valued as part of the global human community. The invitation indicates, as well, that everyone, without exception, has access to God-given provisions in the most inclusive sense.
I choose to live in community at the expense of national protections. I do so because I have chosen to follow Jesus, one whose very life was the epitome of community. Jesus never, in my view, focused on a protectionist agenda. If he had, I imagine he would have fought tooth-and-nail for his own life. Instead, Jesus always spoke about giving, set the example of standing with the accused and marginalized, and stooped to serve the least of all. Ultimately, Jesus lost his life, a most precious possession, because he was willing to risk safety for the good of all.
I am hopeful knowing that the value of community exists in the midst of a protectionist ethos. My hope rests not with governments but with the church, which at its best, is called to be a mission of community.
In addition to Jesus there are others who have come before me whose lives and words exemplify a commitment to community, and who motivate me in a comparable direction. Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, declared, “…we have this obligation to build community, it isn’t just an obligation to one another but to all those who come to us.” Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer remarked, “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
My hope is for the church to accept this reality with fervor, not in an effort to restore greatness, but in the common cause to sustain the goodness of God’s created order. I believe God invites us all into this glorious mission.