As I read the first three chapters of Exodus this morning, my mind and heart went to current events. Exodus begins by sharing how the Hebrews flourished in Egypt following the death of Jacob and later of Joseph. Exodus 1:7 says, “But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.”
Then verse 8 comes and a shift happens…1:8-11 says, “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”
The words of Pharaoh are definitely words of fear. They are words that reflect a fear of “the other” or the ones “not like us.” I couldn’t help but think of the fear that is present in our country today. Fear of immigrants. Fear of terrorists. Fear of Muslims. Fear of __________ (insert your own here). Its not a stretch to think of the words of the Pharaoh here being said by some of our political candidates or by pundits on TV or online.
Do we have problems in our immigration processes? Yes and our politicans need to work together (ha) to try to solve them. Are there terrorists in the world who cloak their horrific actions in a guise of bad theology? Yes there are. But that does not mean that every Muslim in the world is suspect. So much of our division in our world is based on fear of those we don’t know and on the unknowns that we do not understand.
Into this, I remember the words of 1 John 4:18-21 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this:those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also”