To Separate or Not to Separate

We are living in a most interesting time.  I think it’s fair to say we are more divided today than we have ever been. As I write this, the Immigration Policy is being debated in Congress and families are being separated from their families.  “According to internal Department of Homeland Security data, from April 19 to May 31 there have been 1,995 children taken from their parents at the border. That’s an average of roughly 48 kids per day separated from their families” (see article at www.erlc.com). Honestly, that simply breaks my heart.   I wanted to take just a moment to put my thoughts down on paper and offer my suggestion to you.  First, let me stress I do not have answers to the immigration conundrum.  I  know the policy must be practical, affordable, and contain a pathway to legal status.  It must also be a policy that keeps American’s safe.  We must protect our borders from those who desire to hurt America and Americans. Finally, any answer to the immigration issue must also assure family stability and unity.  Currently, our system is broken and the events on the border of Mexico simply highlights the brokenness of our system.  While I’m not trying to answer the immigration issue, I am writing to remind Christians in America of a few things.

Before starting, I do have a unique perspective.  For eleven years, I lived in Dodge City, Kansas. In those years, I saw the good, bad, and ugly of both legal and illegal immigration.  I have had the joy of baptizing children of parents who are in the nation illegally.  I have had the headache of trying to walk through the impossible process of citizenship with pastor friends from Mexico.  I’ve struggled with the language gap in Dodge City and I’ve worked through some of the hurdles of living in a city made up of many immigrants. Overall, I found the great majority of immigrants coming to work and live in Dodge City hard-working, God-fearing, and family loving individuals.

Therefore, I write this from a place of empathy and sympathy for those who are on the border and trying to better their lives in America.  Furthermore, I write this from the perspective of a Pro-life, Republican, follower of Jesus Christ.  As a follower of Christ, I am reminded of a few things that shape my values:

  1. As a Christian, I am to seek the Kingdom of God first; The United States of American is not the Kingdom of God.
  2. I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom first and an American second.
  3. I am a foreigner and stranger in this world; I am only passing through. I do think there’s a special irony in this when we realize as Christians we are all aliens.
  4. God has offered me amazing grace that I must extend to all people rather they are American or not.
  5. I know very godly people who love Jesus as much as I do who are affiliated with the Democrat party. Your salvation is secured through the blood of Jesus Christ and not secured by your party affiliation.
  6. As a Pro-life proponent, I believe strongly in the value of life in the womb, the value of life on a deathbed, and the value of life at the border of Mexico. We must value all life.
  7. My loyalty is to God and His Kingdom first, my love is extended to all, and I must live explicitly tied to the Gospel of Christ which extend grace to all. Christians, we can not allow the world to love the refuges more than the Church loves them.
  8. My loyalty is to the family of God even before it is to my own personal family. The family of God extends way past the borders of The United States. I literally have brothers and sisters in Christ coming to America.

We must respond in grace and love not hate and fear.

I am so troubled as I read Facebook and Twitter responses.  I often read what Christians write and I’m grieved to the core.  We are responding in anything but love.  No matter how you feel about the immigration issue, we are commanded by God to love others.  This love contains empathy.  Imagine what it must be like to be at the border, wanting nothing more than improving your life, and your children are taken away.  Shouldn’t that thought break a Christian to their core?

Put a face to the immigration crisis

Make the immigration issue personal.  Imagine your adult children on the border and your grandchildren being taken away.  Feel the pain.  Imagine the fear.  Take a moment as you read this to hurt for the people who are at the border; people created in the image of God.  Understand, that many of the people who are at the border are our brothers and sisters in Christ or people who need to hear the Gospel. God is literally bringing the nations to us.  Isn’t there a better way?  Can’t we as Americans do better?

Respond like Jesus.

It’s such a simple truth.  When we are confronted with a difficult choice, we always chose the way of Christ.  Matthew 25 reminds us that when we treat a “stranger” with compassion, it’s as if we are doing it to Jesus, Himself.  I believe deeply that God is grieved with our current policy of separating families at the border.

This is a very difficult issue.  We need Jesus. Here are a few action points for each of us:

  1. Pray for our Congress and our President. Pray that God will intervene, and our nation can come up with a strong bipartisan solution to the immigration crisis.
  2. Be devoted to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Put His Kingdom above your loyalty and love of America. Love the immigrant with a Christ-like love.
  3. Be loving and kind to all people. Be motivated by love.  You will give an account on the way you treat all people.
  4. Ask God that His wisdom will prevail.
  5. Listen more and speak less. Can I tell you a very simple secret?  You don’t have to answer every person on your Facebook news feed.  Often, silence is a good and godly response.
  6. Don’t try and justify our actions by saying it’s been going on for years. Instead of trying to justify, be broken.  If it’s been going on for 6 months, separating families is a bad policy. If it’s been going on for 10 years, it’s still a bad policy.

I’m not sure of the answers to this pressing question, but I do know what I’m seeing on the border and the separation of families is not right and I believe absolutely not pleasing to our heavenly Father. I also believe much of the words and actions of American Christians are not pleasing to the Father as well.

As I close, take a look at a resolution made at last week’s Southern Baptist Convention.  Messengers voted on a good resolution on immigration. I think it is very timely and good.  You can see it here: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/2288/resolution-5–on-immigration.

By the way, I love living in the United States. I believe it’s the greatest nation in the world.  That is the reason so many want to come and live here.   I am very proud to be an American.  I’m hopeful and prayerful our legislature will come up with a good and viable solution.  One that is both protective to Americans and kind to our immigrants.  In the process, don’t forget who you are.  You are citizens of the Kingdom.  Act like children of God.  Always, respond in love and grace.  I guess my only real point is overly simple: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Who’s your neighbor?  Not only is your neighbor those who live next door to you, but your neighbor also includes all of those people on the border of Mexico.

 

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