For those living in the United States, the issue of immigration reform is on the front pages once again. President Obama’s May 10 speech in El Paso, Texas, called on the US Congress to take action on immigration reform, and Senator Harry Reid announced the next day that he would reintroduce legislation to the Senate that would provide conditional, permanent residency to deportable students.
From most perspectives, illegal immigration is a problem that is intractable, complex, deeply personal, and highly political. But turning to God in prayer enables us to understand we are the immortal, beloved ideas of infinite Love, God. Then we are no longer satisfied to define people by their country of origin, or to accept the belief that there “isn’t enough to go around.” Reforming our perspective through prayer will help us move forward to find solutions that are just, compassionate, and sustainable.
In one of her sermons, Mary Baker Eddy advised, “Let us remember that God — good — is omnipotent; therefore evil is impotent. There is but one side to good, — it has no evil side; there is but one side to reality, and that is the good side. God is All, and in all: that finishes the question of a good and a bad side to existence” (Christian Healing, p. 10). Here is a starting point from which to quiet two of the noisiest claims that threaten to drown out a solution to the issue of illegal immigration: first, that there is an imbalance of resources and opportunities in God’s kingdom; and second, that political partisanship is insurmountable. The truth is that God’s good is infinite and universally available for the benefit of all mankind. We are all the deeply cherished children of the one loving Father-Mother God.
Just one prayer of gratitude has the power to open hearts and rule out fear, allowing for a balanced exchange of labor and goods between nations.
In our prayers, we can begin by insisting that man is intelligent, reasonable, just, and compassionate. The basis for this fact is found in the Bible: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Gen. 1:27). In the next verse we read that God gave man dominion over everything in His creation. This dominion includes the ability to live in full recognition of God’s tender, ever-present love for each one of us.
This understanding clarifies our prayers about immigration. Acknowledging the infinite nature of Love lifts us above fear that we, or others, do not or will not have the job opportunities we need, or that we can be deprived of Love’s generous provisions. Love has given us the job of being Love’s very own image. It is a job that employs every one of us right now, right where we are. In a very real sense, each individual is legitimately employed and employable as the child of God. Not a single individual is more or less deserving than another, for God loves each one of us equally. His love, like the rain, falls without partiality. And our crystal-clear understanding of God’s impartial love supports lawmakers called upon to craft equitable legislation.
We can also look to Christ Jesus’ example in our prayers. One of his experiences, recorded in Matthew 14, is helpful to recall when we are praying about immigration and other complex issues. This account tells how Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fishes, gave thanks to God, blessed the food, and fed more than 5,000 people. Rather than dwelling on seeming lack, he was busy thanking God for the good already there. He was showing us the way to proceed when global supply and demand—of food, labor, resources, or opportunities—seem unequal. Just one prayer of gratitude has the power to open hearts and rule out fear, allowing for a balanced exchange of labor and goods between nations.
This story also reminds us that there may be more than one answer to a problem. Jesus didn’t have just one giant loaf of bread and one huge fish! Solutions to immigration may only become apparent as we each gratefully, humbly, and graciously accept ideas regardless of who may offer them. As anyone who has ever worked on a group project will attest, progress begins when individuals relinquish the need for personal recognition, and instead focus on the successful completion of the task. It also helps to remember that even if an answer doesn’t seem adequate at first, it carries within itself the ability to expand. Good ideas beget more good ideas!
We can expect that our prayers will open up new, productive avenues about how to proceed with immigration reform. Prayer quiets fear and enables us to see the perfectly balanced kingdom of God that is at hand. Our willingness to be led by the Christ will show us the way forward.
Elizabeth Kellogg is a Christian Science practitioner. She lives in Galesburg, Michigan.