Strange and Suspicious

Jesus obviously got it wrong.

He should clearly have foreseen that the states like Arizona would require, at some point, some kind of identification card to guard against those who act strangely and suspiciously – those, that is, who are illegal and, therefore, threaten the social, political, and economic order.

The Arizona legislature understands that such criteria (acting strangely and suspiciously) applies both to those who might have illegally crossed the U.S. boarder from Mexico – and, one would assume, from Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia, and Canada (those other places from which illegal immigrants come to our shores) – or to those who might have been born in other countries and who choose to run illegally for president of the United States. And, one has to think, it will be just a matter of time before all this applies to still others who might be engaged in different kinds of socially disruptive behaviors.

The problems that these strange and suspicious folks cause are evidently serious and severe enough that there is justification for the abridgement of the Fourth Amendment of the nation’s Bill of Rights (“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”) as well as the Fourteenth Amendment (“…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.”)

But the problems these strange and suspicious people cause can be solved, Arizona legislators believe, with identification cards.

No card and you’re out: sent back to where you came from, or disqualified for running for president, or taken into custody and tried for acting strangely and suspiciously.

Jesus, mistakenly, didn’t make any provisions for identification cards for his followers – or, for himself for that matter – and we all know how he ended up for his own strange and suspicious behavior that threatened the social, political, and economic order of his own day!

Instead, after articulating a new commandment for his disciples (“to love one another”), Jesus told them the strikingly new way they would be identified (John 13: 35): “By this will all identify you as my disciples – by the love you have for one another.”

No identification card stating the commandment, just the plain action that carried out the commandment.

Now, from just a self-preservation point-of-view, that certainly wasn’t a particularly good idea or commandment or means of identification, since much of the time, in the decades and years that followed, when the disciples took the idea and commandment about loving one another seriously they got in deep trouble – primarily because others thought the followers of Jesus were acting strangely and suspiciously.

If only Jesus would have suggested or even required identification cards for the disciples – ones that stated that the authorities didn’t have to worry because, even if these followers of his were acting strangely and suspiciously, they wouldn’t actually do anything that would be disruptive.

But, really, Jesus couldn’t do that because it would have been a lie. Jesus knew from his own experience that publicly showing deep love and care for one another in a community had a way of threatening those who lived otherwise, and had a way of threatening the social, political, and economic order based on the normal way of living together – the way of taking care of yourself first and foremost.

So Jesus couldn’t come around to letting Christians identify themselves with ID cards. That wouldn’t be truthful about what he was up to and it wouldn’t accomplish what he had in mind.

What, therefore, would he have thought about Christians, much later on, giving up the practice of identifying themselves by actually loving and caring for one another, and even extending that love and care to others, especially if they were in need, and reverting back to taking his name and and identifying themselves publicly with it — almost like putting his name on their identification cards?

What would he think if his followers stopped acting strangely and suspiciously and just blended in with everybody else?

How do you think he would feel if those who identified themselves so publicly with his name remained stone silent and completely unnoticed when the Arizona police arrested people because they looked strange and suspicious?

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