I've just watched the midday news as I ate my lunch. More Syrians are fleeing their homes because peace talks have broken down. The UN is making money available for these refugees. They will be fringe dwellers. Various churches and aid agencies are doing their bit to help them. Butlike most migrants under duress they will probably be socially unacceptable until they have gained the right to be respected.
But by what measure are incomers and fringe dwellers deemed worthy of respect? These issues have been with us for generations. The classic is the white man’s view of the first Australians and vise versa. Then there is our history of boat people since the first fleet of 1788. What constitutes acceptability? What right do we have to belong? Citizen of the year awards; OAM's; participating in a citizenship ceremony?These are all good things but by what measure can we say a person is acceptable?
It is interesting that the Bible teaches the sanctity and intrinsic worth of the individual over and against other views of humanity such atheistic Communism where the individual has to serve the greater good. The Bible also emphasizes the ‘corporateness’ of being the people of God together. Christians are a people who are going somewhere together under God’s guidance. We must never forget this as did the people of Israel in the desert of Sinai and later in the land of Israel. Moses had to remind them they would be sojourners/transients there. And sadly having reached their promised land they forgot who brought them to such a pleasant place. They forgot that their purpose was to live in such a way that the surrounding nations would leave their idols and turn to their creator who they had long ago forgotten.
The Israelites were eventually reminded of their origins and status through the harshness of exile in Babylon but not before many warning by the prophets. The task of the prophets was call the people back to being God focused. They also warned the people of the danger of idols and the selfish individualism that comes when we no longer see the image of God in our fellow human beings.
Our Heavenly Father loves us and warns us not to be too comfortable in this world. If we put our roots down too far we may find that we cannot move when told to like the people of old in the desert. We will become preoccupied with the thorny issues of life and forget to pray.
Christians are a pilgrim people and we travel joyfully together. We know that what we have we share because God has shared with us supremely in his Son. Therefore what gifts we have are not to be used to distinguish ourselves but to serve each other. After all did not the greatest individual whoever walked this earth do so when he died on the cross for us?
We are the body of Christ! Come and share with fellow pilgrims at St Nick’s.