A Jesus Who Builds Walls

I know thousands of people who say they follow Jesus, and I see millions more who I know are just like them.

For the past two decades I’ve pastored them in small rural chapels and in suburban megachurches.
I’ve served alongside them in the streets of Center City Philadelphia and in the tin-roofed slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

I’ve led their teenage children on overseas mission trips and weekend retreats and spontaneous service projects.
I’ve been in their homes and they’ve been in mine.

I know what these people have seen, the work they’ve been a part of, the kindness they’ve shown others, the faith they’ve professed, the God they’ve read and sang about.

Which makes it all the more heartbreaking now, to admit that I no longer recognize them; the venomous words they share on social media, the hateful theology they now ratify, the blatant corruption they turn their heads from, the human rights atrocities they are stunningly silent on.

The only conclusion I can come to, is that we were never following the same Jesus—or at the very least we aren’t any longer.

They are following a Jesus who is foreign to me, a Jesus who builds walls.

It is not the Jesus I shared with them on all those Sunday mornings;
the one who touched the hand of the leper,
the one who fed a starving hillside multitude;
the one who preached the scandalous goodness of a despised Samaritan,
the one whose family fled political genocide soon after he was born,
the one who said he and the forgotten prisoner were one in the same,
the one who dined with both priest and with prostitute,
the one who lived off the kindness of those he met as he traveled,
the one who said our neighbors and enemies, deserve the same love we give our families and ourselves.

They seem to have no recollection of this Jesus anymore or have willingly discarded him—or maybe they never had interest in him at all and it’s only now that I can see it.

Stranger still, is that these people tell me that I’m wrong; that my Jesus of compassion and gentleness and mercy is one found in spiritual error. They mock me for this Jesus, saying that it is my bleeding heart that has led me far afield; that in seeking such empathy I have drifted into heresy. 

I’m good with that—really good with that.

I am going to take my chances with a wall-breaking Jesus.
I’m going all in with a Jesus who errs on the side of loving people, of welcoming them and healing them and embracing them.
I’m betting that the carpenter Jesus, would have me make tables and set a banquet for every hungry, hurting, exhausted person who crosses my path, without caveat or condition.

I will not worship or preach or serve a Jesus who makes walls; whose ministry is one of separation and disconnection and segregation.

I have no use for a white privileged, gated community Christ, whose only concern is America.

I have no interest in a religion that manufactures outsiders based on their nation of origin, sexual orientation, pigmentation—or any other inherent part of who they are.

These Christians I’ve known in close proximity and the ones I’ve seen from a distance, are welcome to this God.

They can have a Jesus who makes walls.

I’ll stay outside here with my Jesus, setting tables and breaking bread.

 

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39 thoughts on “A Jesus Who Builds Walls

  1. Thank you John for speaking out with a beautifully brave post. I’m not a Christian, but feel very close to the embracing, forgiving, inspiring Jesus you describe. May we all be inspired by that man and continue to spread the love. Thank you.

  2. Not one of “these Christians” you are talking about are against immigration. Please for the love of God stop telling half the truth! LEGAL immigration is on of the principle and foundational qualities of this country, one of the things that make it so great. We need LEGAL immigration to fill jobs that are being created in our amazing economy, we need LEGAL immigration to keep our workforce divers in opinion and culture. But to advocate for open borders, which you are doing, is not Jesus. To help the poor, the orphan, the broken, and the widow is not to simply open our boarders and let everyone in so “our government” can support them. It would be impossible to pay for such a thing. Not only that, but we are not doing well at taking care of our own poor, orphan, widow, and broken, how do you expect flooding our country with hundreds of thousands more is being Jesus?? If anything you would severely cripple our ability to take care of those in need in our own country. Your blindness and unwillingness to see the larger picture, especially as a pastor who should look at scripture in the same way, is extremely disheartening. Im sure you preach this on Sunday and try to make the gospel fit into it… concerned

  3. Amen, John. You have spoken the cries of my heart. I’m not going to claim anything but the Jesus you describe – the one who leaves the 99 to find the one who is lost, or rejected, or abandoned. I have already left the wall-builders, and have joined the bridge builders, the wall-breakers, the ones with the really big tables and the hoops big enough for everyone – even me – to get in. Thank God – of my misunderstanding – for your witness.

  4. Is it really Jesus who disapproves of a wall on the southern border when one third of the women who come north are raped? And don’t tell me that’s not true. I’ll believe statistics over you.
    Would Jesus support any activity that is basically illegal and causes women to be raped. NO, I don’t think so.
    Then these ill-educated people get here, can’t find a job, can’t learn in order to get a good job because they’re shuffled into poor paying jobs because they need them now, and on and on and on with problems they must face and overcome.
    And you want us to believe Jesus approves of this? How about an American family sponsors an illegal immigrant family for five years, helps them learn the language, teaches them so they’re prepared for at least sixth grade, teaches them there is only wealth in the U.S. for families with a father and a mother, and teaches them why they should refrain from drugs, alcohol, and premarital and extramarital sex.
    That would definitely work better than what they’ve got now: The same government that can’t get anything right.
    We came legally to the U.S. when I was eleven. We came from Europe, and my parents with five children were living hand to mouth for years, but they saved for their old age and were responsible for themselves with Social Security and Medicare.

  5. The hardest thing is to love these persons, who certainly would laugh ad deride Jesus’ followers. And not to sink into the thought that I’m better than them–because, of course, I’m not. Help me to include those who would exclude me.

  6. God is a god who provides a rebuilding for broken down walls and for our protection from those who would harm us read the book of Nehemiah. It is dangerous my friend to put God in a box. My mom used to say she worshiped the God of the New Yedtament, not the Old Testament. I told her they were the same, and God is not easily understood. Be careful lest you make your principles God’s.

  7. Thank you , i sent tgis to my sister shes the reason i got baptized but shes adamant about getting that wall ! I did not want to ? God on this ! I know what the bible says, beware of flase profits i Ithink thats part of it! We also know that the last days the wheat will be separated from the chaft!

  8. what do you say to the families who have had members killed by people who have been here and been deported over and over and over? a country is not a country without Walls. If you want to live in a third world country go live in one but don’t bring it here.

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