Knock and maybe I will answer

Knock and maybe I will answer

I see Christmas just up the road, weary travelers searching for a place to lay their heads. I feel that journey in my heart very loudly this season.

I’m not a scholar of the Bible. I am a Mennonite-raised woman who stayed safe inside the plexiglass of her small town until it couldn’t hold her expanding worldview any longer.

We’re taught “not to be of the world” and to balance precariously on a narrow path, and I know this to mean “don’t take part in the evil nature of the world.” Or in other words, anything that is not what we have been taught.

But what is the world? And why are we to stay out of it?

I remember being taught about the path we must never stray from, and fear filled my heart in the heaviest of ways. I saw it as a torturous mountain path and was sure I would go off it, only to be lost in the fires of the world we were taught not to be part of.

I didn’t know then I would find what mattered most in those spaces just off to the side, the margins and people that are made to feel astray of “the right way.”

My faith in what I know Christianity is — what I was once taught it should be — falters as this ragged road to Christmas consumes. I don’t doubt the strength of my faith. It’s what I have been ever-taught to hold onto. But having faith means more than professing it within the now relative safety of our church’s walls, at a Bible study or a cozy coffee shop meeting.

The way of inviting others in to share in our plenty is being demonstrated to me as a scarce way of living, a fearful thing. I’ve seen the closing of hearts around a protected circle of humanity, those inside deemed the only important thing to preserve, where I once thought we were to share with abandon.

A recent quote I found says, “Nowhere in Scripture is ‘welcome the immigrant’ or ‘what you do to the least of these’ or ‘love your neighbor’ followed by ‘as long as they do everything legally.’ We made that part up so we didn’t have to do what is right.”

I believe my heart skipped several beats when I read that.

“As Christians, we are called to be border-crossers. We are called to be merciful.” One of my pastors shared this in a sermon, and I found it as I was browsing through the hundreds of quotes I save. I worry that words, once said, will be lost unless I write them down.

Have we been taught to open our hands and simply go or lock the doors at the first sign of something distasteful? Have we lost sight of the mercy God has so freely given to us over and over? I openly wrestle with myself.

My pastor also said these words that remain with me today and always, “Anyone who believes that Christ isn’t Lord of all, isn’t Lord of Muslims, the undocumented, atheists and more, thinking he is only for Christians, does not know who the Lord is.”

Our humanity is intact until we realize that it isn’t, until faced with the prospect of being the hands and feet of God in a tangible way. We play out those ways in other countries because we like the aspect of doing God’s work, but at a distance, at our convenience and coordinated time frame.

But when those same people we helped come to our door and knock, asking for help and a place to lay their heads, it is then we realize our love is conditional.

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