The Christian and Politics

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My name is Hector Hinojosa. I was born in South Texas in 1957 to a family of yellow dog Democrats. That means if there’s a Democrat on the ballot, we will vote Democrat even that Democrat an “old yellow dog.” Being born in October of 1957 I did not get to vote in the presidential election until 1980.  I voted for Ronald Reagan.  Since then I have voted for every Republican presidential nominee since then- until our last election.  Because of the position the Republicans have taken on the wall, I could not support them.  I felt like I would be betraying the sacrifice my grandparents and others made to give me and my children the opportunity we have..

I have been a Christian since 1991. I have been going to my church since 1998. I am a leader at our church. I work in the Financial Services Business, so I’m pretty conservative on fiscal matters.  I’ve been a Mexican almost my entire life and, on this border wall issue, I guess I am considered a bleeding-heart liberal.  I am considered one of “them”- you know the guy who hates America and wants it over run by foreigners.   I don’t think I am – but that is what I am told.  I hope that disagreeing with many of my fellow Christians on this topic doesn’t mean I am committing a mortal sin. Having been born a Catholic I know what a big deal that is! That is why I am so grateful for grace!

I was recently asked to write this paper. My topic was “the Christian and politics”. As I was gathering my thoughts, I came across an article written in the Christian Chronicle that talked about some congressmen who were worshipping with their first-generation Spanish-speaking Hispanic friends and loving them like Christ would have us do.  These same congressmen also support building a border wall. They all seem very comfortable holding these two seemingly diametrically opposed ideas at the same time. But for me it’s impossible to square them.

Perhaps we should agree that what someone says, and what another hears are sometimes NOT the same thing. Sometimes they’re  a little different, and there is not harm.  And sometimes they’re so different it’s almost funny.

And in this instance, a politician worshiping with first generation Spanish-speaking Hispanics- not caring if they are fully documented, is a true picture of what Jesus’ love should look like. But, when the very next sentence is that we have to build a wall, those positions seem incongruent. What I hear is this: we love you and we don’t care how you got here or what your status is.  On the other hand, your brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles are not welcome here. At least not today. Now, if they take the 5 to 10 years to process paperwork and apply legally- then hopefully they will be chosen for status of the United States, then we would be happy to welcome them and love them like Jesus loves us. Short of that, all we can say is “don’t come.” If you try, we’ll catch you… at the wall.

The disappointing thing here is that these men all love Jesus. They love their church and the people in them. I simply must believe that they don’t understand what is being heard- when they speak. I am currently reading a book by Andy Stanley titled Irresistible. The premise of the book is to try to find out why Christianity has become so resistible. Right after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity was irresistible. People were flocking to become followers of Christ.  And in doing so they faced great danger to livelihoods, to their families, even to their lives- many were killed because of their faith in Christ.  And yet they came. Today only about a third of the people in the county that I reside in, Tarrant county, attend a church assembly on Sunday. Only half consider themselves Christians. What has happened to our faith? Why has our faith become so resistible?

While there may be many things we can look to- I believe that this non-congruent view of immigrants is a good example of why people stay away and even refer to us as hypocrites. After all, Jesus told us to love our neighbor. The pharisees were trying to get Jesus to say something wrong.  They wanted to ask him loaded questions to try to trap him. They asked him “who is our neighbor” and what does love look like.  He told the story of the good Samaritan. In it he showed us how it is that we are to love our neighbor. We are to do what love requires. The story also forced them to realize that people that don’t look like them, or come from the same country, or believe in the same way- were their neighbors. I think that’s something we should consider today. Instead we seem to be saying that “while we love you, we don’t want or love your family back home.” I don’t believe that’s what Jesus would have us do.  I think the question that we need to ask is “what does love require?” How do we love them? The answer is -what does love require.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure that love does not require a wall.  This reminds me a little of the first century Jews (Pharisees) that were teaching Gentiles that before they could become Christians -they first had to become Jews (circumcision).  They were adding steps to be worthy of God’s love.

A few years ago, a friend of mine who was the pulpit minister in a church in McAllen Texas (on the border) was looking for volunteers to help when the children’s immigration crisis was happening. He was lamenting that all the churches of Christ in the valley only produced 5 to 8 volunteers a day, but that the Catholic Church had hundreds of volunteers helping these children. Is there something we can learn from them?  Is there any question as to why most of these Hispanics attend the Catholic church?  It’s not about theology, it’s about how they are loved.

I believe that we all want everyone to follow Jesus and find his love and his grace. It’s important that we are sensitive to what our words and beliefs say about how we love people.  All people! Even our enemies. And maybe even the people who are risking everything to come to America! They are not the enemy.  But the enemy has convinced many of us that we can treat such people as if we hate them and still love Jesus.

If you have read to this point, I want to thank you. This has likely not been an easy read. Hopefully I didn’t offend you.  But I do want to remind us that this (Earth) is not our home! That we too are immigrants and that one day we will go home where there will be no walls.  America is the greatest country in the world, it’s not the promised land…. That is coming and I want to see everyone there!

In him  Hector

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