Perhaps some of you will find this short note a bit unpalatable and un-American. I hope you find it both. I have a lot of different kinds of FB friends, liberals & conservatives, christians & humanists, atheists & theists, men & women, and so on. What continues to amaze me is that it is my christian friends who offend me the most. Don't get me wrong, I love them all the same, but let me ask a question: What if Jesus treated us the way some Christians are treating immigrants–legal and illegal?
Oh I get it: "It's unfair to all those immigrants who went through the process legally and followed all the steps to become citizens of this country legally."
I keep hearing that word: legal (and any and all permutations of it). Legal.
Since when are christians legalists? Isn't that the whole point of God's grace? Isn't it the entire point that we did absolutely nothing to become his children? And yet we are outraged that people want to become children of this nation–by whatever means necessary?
What if Jesus said, "You didn't follow all the rules to become my son or daughter. You didn't have faith on this day. You didn't eat communion on that day. You didn't read your Bible. You didn't pray your prayers. You weren't baptized the correct way. Therefore, you cannot come in to my country."
What if that's what Jesus said to us?
And yet my Christian friends are saying the same thing to so-called illegal immigrants: you didn't follow all the rules; therefore, you cannot come in to our country.
Since when are Christians legalists?
I know, I know. Someone's great-granddaddy fought in some war many years ago and migrated here legally and therefore that ought to be the paradigm for everyone who comes here. It's unfair to my great-granddaddy who suffered and bled all over this land. Sure it is. I agree.
But since when are Christians about what is fair and not fair? Since when has God *ever* said to us: I'm going to give you what you deserve?
What if christians, instead of acting like those politicians for whom these so-called illegal immigrants are nothing more than a political sledgehammer, started to demonstrate unconditional, welcoming, unashamed love and compassion?
But what about all the diseases they carry with them? So.
But what about all their drugs? So.
But what about terrorism? So.
But what about our job? Our economy? So.
Since when do christians put their hope, faith, and security in the ability of a government to eradicate disease, drugs, and fear? When was the last time you or I went without a meal? Or shelter? Or clothing?
The very fact that we are living and breathing is unfair. We are waging the wrong war because the Bible says that our enemy is not 'flesh and blood': "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).
People are the very people God wants to save. Maybe this their only chance to ever hear about Jesus. Or, truth be told, maybe they are bringing more Jesus with them than we currently have here ourselves?
In making immigrants–mostly the illegal ones–the enemy, we are losing the mandate we have from Jesus which is, very simply, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Are there people who are using this for means of political expediency? Yes: Republicans and Democrats are both using the situation of immigration to secure their power. Make no mistake about it: neither the conservatives nor the liberals have the interests of Jesus–or you for that matter–in mind. They have only their own power in mind: securing it for many years and lording it over you.
Christians have this silly notion that because someone is a gifted speaker that it means they are our friend. Don't be fooled people: the powers that be are only and always friends of themselves and power. They do not and never have had your interests in mind.
Since when are Christians motivated by the power of those in power? We have one King. Period.
So what's all this about? Well, I think the tone of our conversation needs to be changed. None of us know what will happen tomorrow. You think your place is secure because you live in America? You think that because you are older you will never have to leave the security of your country and become and 'illegal' immigrant? Ask yourself, would you want to be treated the way you are treating people?
You think because you have a house or a business or a job that you will never be faced with the prospect of losing your home? Renee and I waited 17.5 years to buy our first house. It was gone in less than 4 years. You think you are secure? You think you can't lose all? Then what will you, christian, do when you have to beg, borrow, or steal in order to provide for your children?
We used to be called a Christian nation, but we are not anymore. And it's not because atheists and liberals have 'taken over the nation'. It's because Christians have failed to embrace the Jesus of the Bible and have instead created one in our own image–one that is based on worldly notions of power and wears the name 'conservative' or 'liberal.'
Maybe we christians should ere on the side of mercy. We too, says the Bible, are strangers and aliens and exiles in this world: "Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without know it."
But even better: "Once you were not a people, but now you are a people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" (1 Peter 2:10-12).
Pray for the many people who continue to enter this country legally and illegally. Try to get past all the political rhetoric and remember that they are people and that the US *is* a great place to live. Maybe in coming here they will hear the gospel of hope and be blessed in Jesus. We don't have to change anyone but ourselves and maybe their hope begins by seeing Christians who are not afraid of them, hating them, or angry at them but instead welcoming of them and loving them. Maybe God's plan in their being here is bigger than our notions of politics and economics. Think about it.
And do so without an agenda. Love God; love people. Remember, at one time we were illegals in God's Country. Be glad he did not treat you the way many Christians are treating those who are coming here.