Jesus looked around the room filled with disciples who were, by most standards, a bunch of losers. Jesus, however, called them friends and then reminded them: You did not choose me, but I chose you!
How different would the church of Jesus Christ be today if that verse was engraved on the front wall of every sanctuary in the world? How different would the Christian faith be if we remembered that Jesus chose us? There is an arrogance that reality dispels. We didn’t pick Jesus; he picked us. We are not children of God because we are strong or beautiful or smart. We are not blessed because we made the wise choice to be born in the right country, or at the right time, or to the right parents.
What seems to be lost in the debate about immigration is the voice of Jesus’ friends. Everyone acts as if we did something to deserve the life we are blessed with in this country. We act as if we have some God-ordained right to the life we have and a moral obligation to keep others from also having that life. The truth is any one of us could have been born across the border, and almost everything we take for granted would not exist.
I am not suggesting that we simply should open our borders, but it seems to me that Christians ought to be asking, “Why?”
- Why do people risk their lives to come to the United States to take jobs most of us don’t want?
- Why is it that an artificial line drawn along the Rio Grande should sentence one person to poverty and another to privilege?
- Why is no one talking about creating a more equitable world?
- Why is it we can afford trillions of dollars on military gadgets, but can’t afford to help our neighbors create a livable world?
- Why do our politicians spend 50 cents of every dollar on the military? Do they think we prefer to defend our lifestyle, rather than share it?
Interestingly, in this passage, Jesus rejects the idea that others should be his servants, and invites even those some may think are undeserving to be his friends. How has the church of Jesus Christ so completely missed the message of mutuality in this passage?
To our arrogance, our sense of entitlement, our sense of privilege, Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me. I choose you!” Perhaps we should remember that about where we were born, because Jesus choose those born south of us, too.