I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
For some time now, the issue that I’m most interested in and passionate about has been immigration and refugee welcome. I’ve done lots of learning about and speaking about and organizing around that issue -- for whatever reason, when I picture the world “set right,” the image that comes to me is a family who is not separated by a wall.
When I speak out about refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq -- especially post-Paris -- I’ve been hearing people say “What about veterans?” Or “Shouldn’t we deal with the problem of homelessness in our own country before we go trying to help people from far away?”
It makes me really mad. I’m not mad because I don’t think the church should care about veterans; I’m mad because I think the church should care about refugees. I want equal time for that issue. I want equal care and concern. I want equal advocacy. I want equal justice.
But here’s the thing: while the image for justice in our culture is a set of scales, the image for justice in Scripture is a river (Amos 5:24). A broad, flowing, living, rolling, sustaining, beautiful river. This river, I believe, isn’t so much about equal anything…it is about abundance.
I want there to be an abundance of compassion in the Christian life. I don’t want our hearts to be divided, I want our hearts to grow. I don’t want to make things more fair, I want to make things more alive. I want the church to be pro-life -- pro-abundant life.
What this pro-life series has taught me is that the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) is deeply, unapologetically pro-life. And from a shared deep reverence for the sacred gift of life, the Holy Spirit has given us specific callings. I have learned that the CRC is pro-birth mom, pro-refugee, pro-unborn baby, pro-person with Downs Syndrome, pro-undocumented immigrant, pro-victim of drone strikes, pro-creation, pro-prisoner...because the CRC is made up of people whose hearts break for those things. Our deeply-felt callings look different in their details, but look the same in their essence: That all may have life, and have it abundantly.
The truth is, we serve a God of abundance, not scarcity. And perhaps we can more deeply invest in the issue that we believe in passionately when we come to understand and value other people's issues. Because drones have to do with immigration, which has to do with prisoners, which has to do with education, which has to do with racism, which has to do with abortion, which has to do with poverty, which has to do with housing. These issues are all interconnected, and they all deeply affect people’s ability to flourish in community--which is to say, that they’re all about shalom.
I think to be pro-life today means embracing this ethic of abundance -- that there’s no person for whom God does not desire an abundant life, born or unborn, and that we can trust that the Holy Spirit will call each of us to contribute to that vision of a wild, rolling, life-giving river of justice.
Let’s be in this together.