I graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009. Though I have kept only a small portion of the theology, I still occasionally read material from people I knew there. Earlier today, I came across an article by my old ethics professor Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Dr. Russell D. Moore entitled, Left Behind in America: Following Christ after the Culture Wars. For a second, I resisted reading the article. Some old wounds take a long time to heal. After a minute or so, I stepped blindly across the border I erected and started reading. Though there are multiple problematic assertions and conclusions to be found in the article, I did agree with Dr. Moore that there is a stark difference between Christian values and the Gospel. Jesus calls us to be right and not just act right. Throughout my day, I have wondered what it would mean to leave Christian values behind and simply embody the Gospel.
This evening, I got a call from a buddy asking me to sign a petition for someone facing deportation. After revealing a few details of the case, he asked if I would still sign it. I didn’t hesitate. I don’t believe in borders. I feel like borders blind us to the humanity of the other. Our categories of undocumented or documented are absolutely ludicrous. In the eyes of God, we are humans. While I am able to espouse Christian values, I am still yearning to develop a broader case of border blindness. The Gospel of Jesus calls us past the false lines we have drawn in our lives to places of deeper engagement. We are not called to engage Christian values. We are called to give our lives. When we are completely given over to Jesus, no border formed against us will prosper.
Talk of traversing borders is not vogue in most Christian contexts. Everyone wants to talk about spaces that are in one way or another safe. Conservatives, evangelicals and fundamentalists have constructed borders around issues of doctrine and dogma. Liberals and progressives have built borders around being right on Christian values. What all of these groups of people don’t understand is that the most dangerous place to be is in the prison of our own borders. We cannot achieve Jesus’ call to the world or even the self unless we develop a border blindness that makes the prisons of our borders obsolete. I remember Billy Graham saying a time or two, “…give up everything that is holding you back and follow Jesus.” I think he was right. You simply can’t follow Jesus and hold on to your borders.