Yesterday, the new passports arrived in the mail. Ah, yes… travel, romance, mystery, adventure. It makes me want to strap on a backpack and – just – go.
The tri-fold pamphlet that came with the documents says it all: “With Your U.S. Passport, the World is Yours!”
My new passport, apparently, contains a small integrated circuit (chip) embedded somewhere in the pages. It’s all part of the initiative to facilitate international security. The chip is a good idea, I’m sure, but my own take on this is that the best thing we can do in the name of safety is to – as the old Kindergarten report cards put it, “Play Well With Others.”
U.S. Report Card (2011); Category – Plays well with others; Assessment - “Fail!” Teacher’s comments – “Sammy is always the first to help his friends in a crisis. Unfortunately, there are too many unresolved issues regarding personal space, grabbing, and occasional bullying. Sometimes Sammy forgets that the whole playground does not belong to him…”
I still have two old British Passports, the first of which was issued in 1972 when I was 16 years old. The inside cover made me feel important and safe: “Her Britannic Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Requests and requires – in the Name of Her Majesty – all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.“
Don't you just love the haircut?
Gotta love the “requests and requires” phrase. My U.S. passport stops short and only “requests” safe passage. But in May of 1972, in my 16-year-old imagination, those same guys in big fuzzy hats who protect the Queen with fixed bayonets and grim expressions were on standby, ready to take care of me in parts unknown, should the need arise.
I’ve seen a lot of the world since then - although nowhere near as much as my son, Andrew. This year he’s travelled extensively in Europe, spent time in Africa, visited the United States twice, and is currently on a mission trip to Central America.
As a child, with Europe in my back yard (“The Continent” as the English would say), I was fortunate to have parents who made the effort to introduce us to the world.
I have lived in the States since 1975, when I came ostensibly for two weeks and just never went back; I became a U.S. Citizen in 1985. I am proud to be an American, and this is my home. However, as the years have gone by, I see myself more and more as a Citizen of Planet Earth. I believe that shift is directly related to my conviction that every single person on this planet is a beloved child of God. Consequently, we are all siblings.
And – this is important - I don’t only consider professing Christians to be my brothers and sisters, or just those people who believe in God. Our connection as people is not limited to belief, our connection is rooted in the fact that all human beings are created in the image of God. Or, as John Ortberg once said in a sermon, “I have never ever met a person who Jesus did not die for.”
I have never met a person who Jesus did not die for.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it
“With Your U.S. Passport, the World is Yours!” Well, not really. This world belongs to God. The people who inhabit this world are God’s children, and anywhere we travel on these shiny new U.S. passports we’re going to find the same thing. My prayer is that more people understand that truth.