JIM CREES: An uncomfortable book for tough times

Pick and choose. Pick and choose.

It’s oh-so-easy to pick and choose — especially (it would appear) when referencing the Bible.

Recently, in a letter from a Stanwood, a man called me to task saying, “You like to quote scripture, and talk about your faith. As far left as the Democratic Party has swung to the left, how can you claim your (sic) a christian (sic) and still support their
principles?”

The writer then wrapped up with, “I will leave you with this thought… If Satan was political he would be a liberal.”

I do quote Scripture. Possibly more often than many columnists. (I suppose I shouldn’t. Apparently I’m not allowed to read the Bible ‘cause I’m a liberal.)

Still, I admit, I do study the Bible. Regularly.

Almost daily.

I guess this is annoying to some readers.

But then to be told Satan is a liberal!!! Now that’s kinda… um… er… definitive!

Think about it. My writer’s idea, when extrapolated out, is simple — Democrats (some) are liberals. Satan is a liberal. Democrats are satanic.

The obverse of that coin of thought is — Republicans are conservative. God is conservative. God is a Republican. Republicans are Godly.

God is a Republican?

Not mine.

And, interesting enough, mine isn’t a Democrat either… or a Conservative… or a Liberal… or any humanly designed label or category, actually. God is God. She didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton.

But back to the annoying fact I quote the Bible in my writing.

I find it most interesting that so many of my more conservative neighbors and friends manage, at the drop of a hat, to trot out a verse or two with regard to any number of topics of special interest to them (same-sex marriage, capital punishment, child discipline, the role of the wife in a family, limiting a woman’s role in the church, etc. etc. etc.)

They know the Bible really well when it comes to this abomination or that mortal sin.

But when it comes to something a little less comfortable (to them) the Good Book is quickly tucked handily back on the shelf, until the next time they need to talk about same-sex relationships or “spare the rod” silliness.

What about… um… say… refugees and immigrants?

Hmmmmmmmmm…

There are a lot of refugees and immigrants in the Bible. The Scriptures are very, Very, VERY clear as to how people of faith are to reach out to people in need of refuge and assistance.

“Do not mistreat or abuse foreigners who live among you. Remember, you were foreigners in Egypt.” — Exodus 22:21

“I am the LORD your God, and I demand equal justice both for you and for those foreigners who live among you.” — Leviticus 24:22

“Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” — Leviticus 19:33-34

But, you see, a certain political narrative gets all screwed up when you’re called to actually read The Law in its entirety and totality. The same-sex commandments are no more important than the refugee commandments — and actually, proportionately way less important!

So, shutting the borders in the face of refugees???

“For the Lord your God… loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” — Deuteronomy 10:18-19

Even the Psalmist got in on the act.

In Psalms 146 he writes, “The LORD loves good people and looks after strangers.”

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”

And, by the way, it is not only the Old Covenant that enjoins people to be kind, mindful and accommodating to strangers, aliens, refugees and sojourners.

Jesus said, in Matt. 25 “… I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

In Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:13) he suggests the sign of a true Christian is to “Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.”

He also tells members if the early church, in his letter, (Hebrews 13:1-2) “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…”

My angry letter writer railed, “The bible (sic) teaches homosexuality is an abomination. I’m sure you know Sodom, and Gomorrah were destroyed because of the vile acts that were common place in these two cities.”

In fact, the ever-popular “vile acts” were not the sole reason for the destruction of Sodom. The Bible records in Ezekiel a portion which should not be ignored “… the people of Sodom and its nearby villages were never as sinful as you. They were arrogant and spoiled; they had everything they needed and still refused to help the poor and needy.”

I repeat, “they had everything they needed and still refused to help the poor and needy.”

So, as we close borders (in the face of people not unlike ourselves), ignore the plight of refugees (who we once were), and turn our backs on those in desperate need of help (as we once were), some folks might take a look not at the Bible that suits political agendas, but the Bible that can be really uncomfortable in tough times.

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Posted by Jim Crees

Jim is the editor in chief of the Pioneer, Herald Review and Lake County Star. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8360 or by e-mail at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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