Immigration

This particular article focusing on a Pentecostal leader and educator demonstrates the complexity of immigration. It also raises the question for me again, as a friend and I discussed last weekend, “Why are many who oppose immigration reform and treating immigrants better calling themselves Christian?” How do you do that?

We can have national security, but the nasty vitriol concerning immigrants themselves is needless. It is pointless, especially coming from those who profess Christ as Lord in their lives.

“Who is doing the greater danger to the rule of law?” he asked at the luncheon. “Immigrants? Or a Congress who knows the system is broken and won’t fix the laws or enforce them?” (Joe Castleberry)

If we are going to respond with bumper sticker answers like, “Build a wall!” or “Ship them all home!”, here are some bumper stickers to think about as well, for believers:

Are immigrants our “enemies?” Consider this bumper sticker: “Love your enemies. — Jesus” (Luke 6:27-36)

Are they NOT your enemies? That would make them your “neighbor.” Here is a bumper sticker: “Love your neighbor as yourself — Jesus” (Mark 12:31)

“For me as a Christian American, to be hostile to people from other places is to violate my spiritual mandate,” said Joe Fuiten, pastor emeritus of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, which has had thriving Iranian, Japanese and Spanish wings.

“Well, they’re not REALLY my neighbor. It’s not like they live down the street from me.”

Try reading this parable to gain perspective on who IS your neighbor, and how you can be a better one.

“But we could be letting in terrorists! We just don’t know!”

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Ps. 56:3)

We can disagree on things. Castleberry doesn’t favor amnesty. I would disagree with him. I favor a path to citizenship that identifies illegals in a way that would help keep those, for instance, who had visas expire but have lived law-abiding years, along with children brought here by families, etc. But many disagree on that as well.

The point is this: we need to sit down and reason together. We don’t throw political hand grenades.

“Sometimes social class values will outweigh religious perspectives,” Castleberry said, adding, “some, not all, working-class white people are taking the bait to blame immigrants for the so-called disappearance of the middle class.”

There are ways to find political solutions, but it is when we sit down and talk. That may seem impossible in today’s deeply divided politics. However, in the meantime, it should also mean we, as believers, find a way to ACT BETTER and with less nasty vitriol.

 

Devoted hearts will find victory

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Ps. 32:8)

We cannot “will” our way to following Christ. We surrender and then determination to follow will come after devotion. 

“God does not want obedience as the fruit of our willful determination. God wants surrender as the choice of the heart. For what we long for in our heart we will pursue with the totality of our being — not simply with the resolve of our will.” (David Benner, Desiring God’s Will, p. 76)

I can’t “will” my way to surrender

With clenched jaw and tightened fists I simply can’t repeat, “I surrender” enough to actually surrender. If the goodness of God is to come into my life, it isn’t by my will. It’s not my “effort” in some way, meaning I will “get it done or else.”

My “effort” is to willingly surrender my moments to the Lord and then invite him into those moments. I can’t be in “this” moment and then think about what God could do in the next moment. I must invite him into this moment… and then wait. Allow the Spirit to come in and do with that moment as he wills. 

We need to move from “willFULLness” to willINGness.” Surrender. It’s not our “great efforts.” It is his divine goodness.

Allow God into your moments. This moment.

Picking and choosing how and when we love God

“Our ambivalence about surrender to God is based on the illusory security of the kingdom of self in relation to the apparent risk of the kingdom of God. God terrifies humans. In the words of Louis Evely, ‘He is total self-denial. He is entirely directed toward another… He knows no rest, no satisfaction, no withdrawal within himself.’ We, on the other hand, have a deeply ingrained tendency to rely on ourselves. We want love without sacrifice — without the risk and expense of the surrender of self-control and determination. God cannot accept such a bargain.”
— David Benner, Desiring God’s Will (p. 39)

 

Why bother?

Here are the BIG questions I am tackling this week as I prepare for Sunday’s message:

Why are you in church?
Why are you calling yourself a Christian?
Why do you claim to follow Christ?

John 6 will be my text. As we continue in our MULTIPLY series, and then with that look toward Lent, these are HUGE questions Jesus has for those who “follow” him.

Stay tuned…