Can anything good come from there?
At the beginning of the Gospel of John there is a story about how Jesus gathers his first disciples. One of them, Phillip, excited about having found the promised Messiah goes to get his friend Nathanael and tells him that he found the Messiah and it was Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael's response is to say “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46).
And I can't help but think about that line, I think that if Nathanael were speaking today he probably would have said something like "Nazareth, that s**thole?"
One of the things we talked about at Encounter during Christmas is that the incarnation is not just God identifying with humanity, but God identifying with the weak, the poor, the forgotten. Those countries that some see as "s**tholes" God sees as places good enough for His Son to grow up.
And as a minority, and as someone that comes from a developing country, that fact gives me an incredible amount of comfort and hope. Especially when I hear of other countries just like mine being referred to in such despicable ways.
I feel a sense of indignation hearing about my people being referred to in such awful ways. And at the same time, I believe that the true ruler of the Universe restored the dignity and worth of humanity by becoming one of us. That is the world I believe in, where every nation and tribe and tongue is part of the beautiful family of God. That is the world Jesus died and resurrected to bring about. That is the world I fight for week in and week out at Encounter. Where everybody is welcome, loved and treated with respect and dignity regardless of what country they are from.
If you felt pain or anger by what was said a few weeks ago, remember, they said the same thing about Jesus.
“El Salvador! Can anything good come from there?”
"Haiti! Can anything good come from there?”
"Africa! Can anything good come from there?”
And God's answer is of course: Yes, yes, yes.