In a recent conversation regarding immigration with one I know to be Christian, a businessman running a Christian business in a large city, I mentioned that the local paper had run an article about a discussion whether one could love one’s neighbor and deport him. The response startled me: “For him to be my neighbor he must be near me, and he isn’t supposed to be near me.”
The clear implication was that he had no responsibility to the illegal immigrant as a neighbor. I hardly knew how to respond. I commented that I could not judge those that crossed illegally, as I had never lived in the grinding, oppressive poverty that they knew. I do not remember his response.
I don’t think that he has understood the implications of the Good Samaritan at all. Today our actions have global repercussions, and we know it; there is no one that we cannot consider a neighbor. This man was significantly overweight as well, with a prominent gut. Our choices to knowingly live profligately while others starve is inexcusable. Yet again Ezekiel 16:49-50 screams into our darkness:
“The crime of your sister Sodom was pride, gluttony, calm complacency; such were hers and her daughters’ crimes. They never helped the poor and needy; they were proud, and engaged in loathsome practices before me, and so I swept them away as you have seen.”
As a child I learned of Sodom and Gomorrah as having been destroyed for rampant, aggressive homosexuality. Ezekiel points out another side to it; they were self-focused and uncaring of those about them. It seems now that the sexuality was a symptom of a much deeper sin of indolent self indulgence.
When I look at the inward focused comfort of much of the middle class Christian culture, I wonder how it is different. The parking lots of many churches show our self-focus in large, expensive , consuming vehicles. The houses in which the cars are parked are usually no less comfortable.
In a recent program I saw on the quasi-slave labor of many illegal immigrants working in the produce fields to grow what we eat, it was estimated that a 6% price increase would suffice to pay a reasonable wage to the field workers. Would we willingly give up something of our lifestyles that so define us in order to pay higher prices for our food, not to speak of clothing and other goods, so that those that produce them might earn a better wage? Would we act toward those that produce what we consume as we expect to be treated for what we produce? Do we even think about it?