As a way to continue the conversations in The Biola Hour, we've invited Sam Gassaway to blog her thoughts after each episode. This is a response to Episode 19 on Immigration, found here. Feel free to interact with her thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter (@sgkay47).
I probably had the reaction a lot of people did when I found out another white guy would be talking about a “person of color issue” this week. I was cynical, frustrated, fed up and skeptical of his competence on the subject.
Okay, I thought. The dude has been working with and helping immigrants for years with his church. But does he understand them as well as they understand themselves? Can he speak with their voice?
Then the week rolled on and President Trump signed legislation cancelling Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Then Friday came around and I heard the Biola Hour guest Josh Smith speak.
“When you come to these conversations, are you coming primarily as a citizen of America, or are you coming as a citizen as the kingdom of heaven?”
Turns out, he doesn’t need to walk in the shoes of an immigrant living in the United States to tell a group of college students the way we have been thinking about their experiences is all wrong.
The monarch butterfly migrates north to south every winter, because they’re very high maintenance and they don’t like it very cold so they up and leave and take a long rest in what they likely refer to as “the warm lands.” And it works, because until humans started practicing eminent domain and dismantling their winter homes, this population’s colossal migration was one of the most beautiful sights of the year.
“The warm lands” is a place of rest and warmth. It is a place of safety and momentary solace from the cold of the north. This land is Mexico, a nation the United States has hyper-demonized as of late, corrupting it into a place where the bad people come from and not the warm summer home of the monarchs.
I have a strange feeling that if the United States could somehow limit the skies as much as we limit the ground, even the butterflies would be sent back and denied entry.
“When we start talking about [immigration] laws first, we become immediately polarized and that line in the sand we draw is the lives of these people,” Smith articulated, setting up his priority of people over politics.
About halfway through chapel, questions starting coming in from the audience that made my heart sputter and sink in my chest. One of them attempted to emphasize that those who disagree with DACA should still be cared for. One tried to use Jesus’ teachings to justify standing behind deportation of people to an earthly country they’ve never called home.
An uncomfortable murmur passed through the audience, and I caught myself in a familiar cycle of frustration and exhaustion at dealing with hate justified with Jesus. Luckily, I was immediately reminded due to the sad seats of Sutherland that I am in a university to be educated through being uncomfortable by ideas that are different than my own.
Some believe the monarch butterfly is so named due to its complete monarchal dominance in population size to other butterfly groups in North America. Jesus is the just, perfect King of the world, and the citizens he wanted in his kingdom were not the elegantly-dressed Pharisees. He wanted the sojourners. He wanted the lost and hurting. He wanted the humble of heart and the pursuers of righteousness.
In other words: he doesn’t want citizens of America. He wants citizens of His Kingdom. And what do they look like? Well, right now, Christians are all immigrants in a foreign land. None of us belong here. And, Lord have mercy, none of us have the right to say someone does not belong in the Kingdom of God.
~ Samantha Gassaway
The views expressed in this post may not necessarily represent the beliefs of Biola University. All content is designed to encourage biblically-grounded conversations around culturally relevant topics.