Like many people, I am disturbed how Attorney General Jeff Sessions cherry-picks Scripture to support his immoral and unjust policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border. I imagine what a spiritual direction session with him would be like:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: I'm upset at the criticism I've been receiving lately.
Bob (as the Attorney General's spiritual director): Can you explain?
AG: Well, it's just not fair. It's contrary to law. We are a nation of laws, and orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.
Bob: Where do you hear God's voice in the criticism you've been receiving, or in your reaction to it?
AG: I'm reminded of the clear and wise command of the Apostle Paul in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.
At this point, I would be struggling with my own thoughts and emotions. I would want to correct him and tell him to read the rest of Romans 13 (the part where Paul says, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.") I would respond to the tension I felt in my body with a simple mantra, "Lord, please be present."
As I continue to imagine our session together, I begin to discern what the Attorney General's image of God might be like: God is the one who brings order out of chaos (see Genesis 1:1-5). From such an image, it's easy to see how one might believe that obedience to order is obedience to God and that fostering disorder is disobedience to God.
I wonder: Toward what is God ordering things? For me, that answer is as simple as it is obvious: God orders all things toward God's self, and God's self is love. We are obedient only to the extent that we love.
Obedience, then, is not just about following laws. Obedience is about sharing our lives, our stories, our resources--everything we have and call our own--with others, and receiving what other people bring with gratitude.
My imagined spiritual direction session with the Attorney General reminds me of the need to question our assumptions about God and the images we build out of those assumptions. For unless we question our images of God, they become idols. And we're clever: we can (and will) find whatever Scripture verse that will prop up those images. Knowing how God feels about idols, we need to smash them. We can do that by asking two simple questions:
- Where does this image of God come from?
- Where does this image of God lead me?
These are hard questions that require freedom and humility; however, in asking them, we will discover the freedom and humility that are required to find God in all things.