Earlier this month the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) issued a policy statement on immigration reform. It is an excellent statement. I urge all to read it–I mean, actually to visit the website (see http://www.nae.net/resolutions/347-immigration-2009), click where you should and read it.
I say this so emphatically because I know for a fact that many have not read it, but have not allowed their personal ignorance of the actual statement to keep them from decrying its presumed contents.
A blogger labeled the statement an "amnesty statement," and this has triggered a frantic effort to protest the "unjust, cruel, horrifying stance your church has taken." This quote is not exact, but it expresses well the sentiments of hundreds of form-letters of protest we have received at the Free Methodist Church World Ministries Center. Permit me just three anguished observations about this.
First, it seems so ironic that followers of the One who claims to be the way, the truth and the life, should care so little about the truth. No wonder people on the outside of the "Household of Faith" in Jesus look side-ways at us when we talk about the truth.
Second, it seems so out of character for followers of Jesus to become so angry at the idea of "amnesty." PLEASE BE CLEAR, the statement is not an amnesty statement. I'm commenting on the red-faced, vein-in-the-neck-bulging anger over the idea that "illegals" should receive amnesty. What causes me such wonderment is the fact that all true followers of Jesus benefit every day of their lives and will throughout eternity, they believe, as result of something very much like amnesty. I mean, while they were still sinners, and didn't care that they were, Christ died for them and set them free, and offered them a clean slate, never mind their multiple crimes, some of which were truly horrific. Yet, they received new life and a new start free and clear, in a place and on a path none of them deserve to be! Wow, sounds like good news to me! How come the very idea of it should make some of us so angry? To be sure, maybe it would be unwise, and perhaps it's not a good idea. Maybe it would be foolish as public policy. But why should people whose very eternity hinges on an incredible "free pass" become so angry over the possibility of some others experiencing a bit of what they have? Again, BE CLEAR, the NAE statement is not an amnesty statement! Earning citizenship and assuming all the responsibilities of citizenship by definition could not be amnesty.
Third, it seems truly outrageous to me that some of these form-letter protests actually describe the imagined amnesty policy as "horrifying." This is outrageous because there are so many truly horrifying things in our world today, things that make Jesus weep. How about the billions of people who do not know the free-gift Jesus offers them? How about the millions of people who are starving, suffering from scarce or unclean water, victimized by tribal and racial animosity, enslaved by human traffickers, and languishing in refugee camps in drought stricken deserts? How about the innocent, vulnerable children the world over not aborted by their desperately poor parent(s) (praise the Lord!) but whose living conditions should really more accurately be named "dying conditions"?
How about this final horrifying reality? All of these horrific facts of life on planet earth could be eliminated or greatly relieved if enough people had the moral and spiritual will to do so, if enough of Jesus' followers became so outraged over these truly horrifying things and so driven by the Lord of love that something simply had to be done?