“Mr. Obama, tear down this wall.” Can you imagine Enrique Peña Nieto, the 57th President of Mexico, giving this speech? How would Americans react? Don’t we have the right and responsibility to protect our land? To keep our people safe from invaders who would take our jobs and abuse our social systems?
I am old enough to remember when in 1987 then President Regan issued a similar challenge to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall. Interestingly not many folks took notice when the speech was first delivered; in time this became the prophetic moment of the Regan Presidency. Within a few years the wall came down and western style freedom spread like wildfire through much of Eastern Europe.
Last week Mennonites from all over the USA gathered in Phoenix, AZ to discuss where they are as a denomination and where they are headed. The theme was “Citizens of God’s Kingdom.” I believe that this theme also has the possibility of being a prophetic moment, not only in the life of the Mennonite Church but also in the life of the American Church. It was a theme which affirmed citizenship in the kingdom of God and the notion that Christianity and the Christian community crosses all borders.
Without a doubt immigration is a controversial political issue. I sort-of get why, but as a Christian matter I am not sure that there is much controversy. After all, Jesus calls us to a new understanding of family. Blood lines no longer define relations. It possible to say, “Our unity in Jesus trumps blood, borders and anything that would separate us from one another.” As we all know families need to connect, get together, and fellowship over meals. Anything, including politics, which prevents this from happening, needs to be called out.
So maybe it is time for a new speech, this time from people of faith – “Mr. Obama tear down that wall.”