AMNESTY FOR “ILLEGALS” AND THE HORRIFICATION FACTOR

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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?

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    fo’ real. It’s hard, because to continue responding to it gives such reactions credit…but to remain silent feels unfaithful. Thanks for responding has you have. 🙂

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    Dearest Bishop Kendall, On behalf of our Church and those who are in disension, division or deception… may this prayer refresh your heart:
    “Lord Jesus… may we lavishly, freely, and gently offer You to all those who are sick, bound or broken; to all those who are hungry, thirsty, or naked; and to all those who are lonely, lost or dying. And to do this with Your simple grace, quiet strength, genuine care, and passionate pursuit… so that the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and the lost will be found. And so that all may know You more intimately, be set free by Your truth, and transformed by Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

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    I recently facilitated a meeting with one of our city council members who I’ve known for years and was honored to be at his baptism when he began following Christ as a young man and after elected to the council. The meeting was asked for by a pastor of another church here in my city who was upset because the city would not allow churches to put up a banner announcing Easter services. (Our city does not allow banners of any kind by anyone!!)
    This pastor did so anyway and was cited a very hefty fine.
    In this meeting this pastor said that he could get many churches to come to the council meeting and protest this.
    To this political move, my friend on the council said: “I would hope that if the churches came together and appeared before the city council it would be for something far more important than banners. We are having a major problem with gang violence, we need the church’s help in this. And we don’t know how to house our poor. We need the churches leadership in this. And we are struggling with partisan division and our community is divided. We need the churches to call us to civility and unity.”
    My fellow pastor recognized that he was missing the larger purpose of the churches in our city.
    I agree that immigration is a complex issue. To be speaking into it is important. To see it from a “heavenly” point of view is what we, the followers of Jesus, are called to do. When we get to heaven, protecting banners and borders is not going to be what Jesus asks us about. He’s going to ask if we used the opportunities of life to bring HIS love into the lives of people. Under whatever banners they might live and whatever borders they may have crossed.
    I appreciate your call to remind us of the kingdom to which we ultimately belong and the responsibility of love our KING calls us to express.

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