Don't look away.
I know it's exhausting, confusing, and terribly complicated. I know that it's hard to know what any one of us could possibly do that might make any difference. I know how the digital storm of a 24-7 news cycle hits with ferocity, and moves on so very quickly. I know what it is to be left to wonder, thus, how we could hope to digest a given day's headlines in any meaningful way. I know we've all got our own stuff and struggles, and that it's hard to muster much energy for the messes of the wider world, most days. In truth, I'm fairly paralyzed and don't know what to do about it, myself. But, I know that the answer will not be found in UNseeing; whatever course and other action may ultimately be required, it begins with the will to see, and the willingness to be restored to sight in the places we are now blind.
In the week ahead, our nation will celebrate the declaration and subsequent revolution that cut us loose from one historic global empire, while laying the groundwork for another. And while there is, truly, much that is exceptional and praiseworthy, to be rightfully credited to the great experiment in democracy called these United States, there is much to be confessed and repented of, as well. And this is not in any way to say that the United States is a particularly bad nation, or that we ought not be deeply grateful for the benefits of our citizenship, which are many! However, for the follower of Jesus it is important that we face and SEE the realities of our nation, as it were, in full color and dimension. It is important that, fond as we may be of her - in truth, often, too unflinchingly fond - in the economy of Christ and in juxtaposition with His Kingdom she is only another nation. She is only another iteration of the world's version of power and goodness and merit. In the language of the Book of Revelation, she is only another "Babylon"; she is OUR Babylon, to be sure, and thus we may be tempted to imagine in her greater degrees of righteousness than previous iterations. But she is an earthly kingdom that ultimately stands apart from (and in not insignificant ways, in direct opposition to) THE Kingdom of Jesus, and in the end she will find herself judged and entirely undone in the presence of the King, alongside every other earthly power.
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. Jesus is not remotely concerned with America's "greatness". He is, however, profoundly concerned with his own people's Christ-likeness. And those who sacrifice the latter in pursuit of the former will in the end find themselves fully vested as heirs in the inheritance of judgment which belongs to Babylon.
As the people of Jesus, first and foremost among our allegiances, we must SEE our nation for who and what she is; gratefully commending that which is commendable, and humbly confessing that which is lamentable. Specifically, and presently: To the humanitarian, political and spiritual crisis that has emerged on our southern border, we must not fail to LOOK. The people of Christ must not fail to SEE and, ultimately, to speak and act according to the call and character of that heavenly Kingdom to which we belong. We must not allow nationalism, fear, partisanship or political posturing prevent us from decrying that which is simply evil in our midst, and being done in our name. The conditions we have created, the policies we have enacted, the trauma we have inflicted, are as inhumane as they are unnecessary, regardless of one's stance on immigration. In allowing these conditions to continue, we not only do unconscionable violence to the most vulnerable, we do profound violence to our own souls. We must repent.
In the end, this manner of violence is simply part and parcel of life in any and every Babylon; it is the underbelly of every empire. The least, the last, the weak and the vulnerable of the world are always the collateral damage of kingdom-building, according to the terms and strength of the world. But, may willing ourselves to look upon this darkness - and all like it - remind every follower of Jesus that WE are a people of another Kingdom, entirely; remind us, that our allegiance, our voice, our lives belong to a different manner of King. And may we live boldly into that allegiance, as the presence of Christ himself in and for the nation of our present exile.
While it has never in fact been ours to work and hope for a Christian nation, Jesus himself has never ceased to work and pray that the world might have in her midst a truly Christian CHURCH. A people; for God's glory, and our neighbor's good. May such be said to be true of us, when these days of ours have come to their conclusion, according to the purposes of the Lord.
Humbly, and Prayerfully.
Don't look away.