I need your help on several issues listed out here, especially from those who hold the Jewish and Christian scriptures in their heart and hold to these writings as guides to faithful living. Here’s what I mean.
In Leviticus 19:33-34, it is written that “when an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were once aliens.”
And yet, a component of Christianity in particular, stridently rejects treating aliens in that compassionate way at all.
Or again in Proverbs 22, it is written that “those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor; for oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss.”
And yet, a component of Christianity in particular, fights tooth and nail to reduce funding for the poor, the hungry and the homeless, including vital student lunch and WIC programs for kids and mothers, all the while fighting to reduce any tax burden on the wealthy.
Or again in Psalm 139, it is written “for it was You who formed my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful are Your works.”
And yet, a component of Christianity in particular, fights continually against accepting others whose abilities and identities differ from their own, despite the claim made that God knows and welcomes each of us as we are woven together in secret.
Still again, in Psalm 103, it is written that “the Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed,” and yet that same component of Christianity, given the chance, works fervently to reduce and remove the right to vote from a whole segment of society, under the false guise and disproved claim of widespread voter fraud, denying them opportunity as full citizens to have a hand in their own future.
How can it be that this segment of society — claiming so fervently to be God-fearing followers of Jesus — can so consistently fight against these concerns that build up a just and compassionate society?
It is written, in Proverbs 14:31-32, as a strong reminder to all God’s children: “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor Him. The wicked are overthrown by their evildoing but the righteous find a refuge in their integrity.”
We are after all, in this life and world together. Perhaps these words from Jeremiah 29 will draw us into community once more. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare (shalom) and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.”
A future with hope. For everyone.
Kim Latterell is the bishop’s associate at Southwestern Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.