Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ILLEGAL PEOPLE?


Are those who enter (or remain) in our country without proper documentation "Illegals"? Are they criminals?  Are they unworthy of compassion, even though they may have arrived here seeking refuge from persecution, war or poverty?  Apparently many Americans, including those who claim to be followers of Jesus, believe so.
 
On a previous post (A Child of Immigrants) - I argued that most of us Americans are "children of immigrants" as I myself am.  I pointed out that some of my ancestors may have been refugees and that those who had arrived in the 17th century did so "without official clearance from the residents who had preceded them ... "

The only comment I received was "Like the liberal blowhard of the lame stream media, you have missed the point ...  The issue is illegal immigration ..."

I replied rather tackily that I considered being identified as a "liberal blowhard" was a compliment and then forgot the comment.

Later I have had second thoughts and I realize that while I had retorted to a perceived slam against me, I had ignored what my reader was saying about the perceived danger of "illegal immigration."  So I feel I need to say more.

There are many in America who have entered this country "illegally."  There are quite a few who have entered legally but have stayed beyond the permitted time.  This may include students, tourists, those who visit for business reasons and so forth.  These would also be included among the "illegals."  Then there are many who have permanent visas, green cards or other legal papers.  Add to these the many refugees who seek refuge here - again through legal channels.  Our present administration is seeking both to rid our nation of those perceived to be illegals (especially brown, Spanish speaking ones) and to keep out those who are attempting to enter legally.  And we're told that the majority of Americans applaud these actions.

I don't know about the person who commented on my previous post, but there are many nativists who don't distinguish between those who have entered legally and those who entered illegally.

I suspect that the problem which many perceive is not a problem having to do with whether or not certain persons hold a particular piece of paper, but a problem having to do with the outward appearances of those persons.  Their skin is darker than mine; they talk funny; they wear strange head coverings or clothing; they worship differently - maybe they even worship different gods!

As I have mentioned in that previous post, my mother came to this country as a child, from Austria.  While her parents retained much of their old world culture and German accents, Mom became pretty well-integrated as an American.  She left behind much of what would distinguish her (except that in her speech she'd occasionally revert to a different word order than English).  One day I heard her complain angrily, "There are too many foreigners coming into this country!"

"Mom!" I replied.  "How can you say that?  You were a 'foreigner' once yourself."

I could see and hear her anger rising as she replied, "You know what I mean!"

Unfortunately I did know what she meant.  She meant what many of our indignant complainers of today mean, "There are too many brown-skinned, strange talking heathen coming into America."

I think it's time we white native born Christian Americans wake up to the fact that our indignation against these people may be based not on concern for their legal status, but on our own racial and religious bigotry.

But now we don't have to call them by those racial or ethnic slurs (that say more about those who use them than about those of whom they are used), we can simply call them "illegals" and self-righteously demand that our government do something about them and applaud when this happens.

Leviticus 19:33-34:  "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  I am the LORD your God."

This passage does not distinguish whether the "stranger" is "legal" or "illegal."

Monday, May 1, 2017

PRAY FOR OUR PRESIDENT, 2

A few years back I published a post entitled PRAY FOR OUR PRESIDENT?  Of course our President at the time was Barack Obama, a man whom I greatly admired.  I complained in that post about the fact that many of my friends - even those who claimed to be followers of Jesus - expressed so much negativity, even hatred, toward him, much of it based on false rumors and conspiracy theories.  I felt, and still feel that the attitude held by many toward this man was totally incompatible with their professions of Christianity.

But now the situation has changed with our new President, Donald Trump.  His detractors need no rumors or conspiracy theories.  Here is a man who openly expresses his hatred toward other races and religions, toward any who oppose him and toward the news media; a man who has openly boasted of his groping of women.  And many of those who opposed Barack Obama are happily supportive of Donald Trump.

So now the shoe is on the other foot.  I now find my attitudes toward our President totally negative.  While I feel these attitudes are justified and I make no apologies or excuses, I feel that I need to follow my own advice.  And I ask my readers to do the same.  So I am reproducing the exhortation Uni and I had on that previous post: 

We have a suggestion:

“I exhort then first of all for entreaties, prayers, intercessions to be made for all persons, for kings and all those who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the presence of God our Savior, who wants all persons to be saved and to come into knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Pau’s exhortation to Timothy seems pretty clear and straightforward.  It also seems pretty all-inclusive (the word “all” appears 5 times in these 4 verses.

We are to pray for everyone.  There doesn’t appear to be any exception.  Now I don’t believe we are expected to simply say “God bless everybody” just before we eat or crawl into bed.  We are to pray for all whom we have opportunity to know, or whose needs we know of.

And we are to pray not just general prayers, but to intercede, to plead with God on behalf of these persons.  The third word for prayer in this passage, I have translated “intercessions” because it is related to a verb translated “intercede.”  We are told in Romans 8:26, 27 that the Spirit intercedes for us, and in Romans 8:34 that Christ intercedes.  In this passage, however, we are to be the interceders.

More specifically, we are to do this “for kings and all those in authority.”  And the reason is given “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”  Could it be any clearer?  We don’t pray for our leaders for their benefit alone, but also for our benefit.

But then Paul gives a further reason – the reason why a tranquil and quiet life is to be desired.  It is pleasing to God, because He wants everyone to be saved.  He wants those in authority to be saved, of course, but He also wants them to promote peace because apparently a peaceful environment is more conducive to evangelism.

Elsewhere in the New Testament we’re given other responsibilities toward human authority that we have as citizens of two kingdoms:  pay taxes, submit to laws, honor those in authority (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13, 17).

But here we are told to pray for them.

And there are no qualifiers given.   We aren’t told to pray only for those of a certain political party or only for those who take a particular stand on some piece of legislation.  We’re not even told to pray only for the “good” ones.  The authorities of the Roman Empire in which Paul’s readers lived were those who were already beginning to persecute them.  In a few years Paul himself would be beheaded by the very authority he prayed for.
So, how should we intercede for our President?  What should we pray for?
·         First of all, that he and his family might be genuine believers in Jesus Christ.
·         That his life would be totally committed to Jesus Christ.
·         That he would be a man of integrity.
·         That he would have wisdom for the decisions he must make.
·         That he would seek peace and justice for America and in the world.
·         That God will protect him and his family from those who wish them harm.
·         That the Christian community would pray for him.

Donald Trump desperately needs our prayers!
(We have President Trump and his family listed first on our daily prayer list. Uni)