The censorship of Christian community

lion-predator-big-cat-cat-162093There is so much I want to say.

So many comments I’d like to make.

More questions I’d like to ask than anything else…

But the Christian community is extremely sensitive. We–I include me in the we–are so sensitive! [don’t use an exclamation point unless you mean it!] What are we so scared of?

It’s like anything we disagree with or anyone who disagrees with us is immediately blacklisted and deemed a heretic or apostate or, dare I say, liberal!!!????!

Scott Sauls, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church Nashville, tweeted on February 12

“I am too conservative for liberals, and too liberal for conservatives.” – Everyone who follows the whole Jesus

2,400 people retweeted. I can only assume it’s because more persons don’t know who Scott is.

Point being, yes. This is an amen deep in my soul. One  of the hardest aspects of doing ministry of any kind in the South is being pigeon-holed by others, feeling like there’s a mold one has to fit into, and then fearing the backlash of not fitting in.

I get diplomacy, I do. But what if the prophets of the Old Testament had been diplomatic? Would they have been prophets? No. They wouldn’t have been thrown into cisterns or killed. They probably would’ve been…wait for it…promoted.

Prophets speak.

         They are a voice.

                      They ask.

                                They tell.

                                           They prod.

Subsequently…

They are isolated. Lonely. Blacklisted, ignored, imprisoned, fired, demonized, etc.

I guess what I’m saying is, can we Christians–bought with the blood of Christ and freed from the strictures of this political world–be truly free? Can we refuse the titles and categorizations that the world requires in order to make enemies?

Why the titles, the categories, the sides? Because we have to know who’s wrong, right?

Following the whole of Jesus really leaves us as misfits. We can’t be contorted to fit into any one corner or box. Too liberal. Too conservative. Can’t be nailed down. Enemies on every side. Sounds like Jesus.

Here’s the thing. If nobody is upset with you. If nobody is frustrated by what you say. If nobody is really bothered by you. You’ve picked a box.  And turns out it’s a perfect fit.

 

What if These Verses weren’t in the Bible?

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Matthew 25:35-36, 40 I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.

Matthew 5:44 I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Deuteronomy 24:14 You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners (aliens) who are in your land within your towns.

Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Acts 4:44-45 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

What if these verses weren’t in the Bible? Would life look any different for you than it does now. Or, do you already live like they aren’t there? I’m guilty. How about you?

Are Immigrants your Enemies? If so, do you love them?

This post was inspired by the story of a confessed illegal immigrant who prevented a young girl from being abducted and the horrors that most certainly would have followed. My question is this: should American kick him out?

I suspect a survey of a handful of Christ followers would reveal that the majority favor more stringent immigration laws. But should this be the case? You may think I’m trying to stir a political pot. I assure you, however, that any political relevance this may have stems directly from biblical conviction and my story as an immigrant.

The issue comes down to this: am I foremost an American or a Christian? I am American by means of my locale in the United States of America. I enjoy living in the US. The privileges are many, which is why immigrants will risk life and limb to enter into this ‘promised land.’ However, I am a Christian. I would wish for this identity to determine more of my life than the former, but I know this isn’t the case most of the time. And it did not used to be the case in how I viewed the immigration question.

Then, by the hand of God, I was forced to take an Immigration and Religion class at Fuller Theological Seminary (a seminary too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals–which means I loved it). There were many nights sitting through lectures that I was more concerned with following the Braves game via ESPN Gamecast. Moreover, bar graphs and pie charts and statistics do not speak to my heart, and these were many.

But what I walked away with was a new perspective. The story of the people of God is the story of an immigrant people. Certainly one would claim, “But what about Israel!” I understand. But think before Israel. Abraham was called by God to leave his homeland and to go somewhere else, destination TBD. Israel formed, not as the nation-state we think of today, but as a people. This people lived in captivity in other countries on several occasions, sometimes by force, sometimes by choice. But they were always the people of Israel/the people of God regardless of locale.

The Incarnation is the foremost instance of immigration in history. God the Son left heaven and entered into this world. How’s that for immigration? Legal or not. The Old Testament is riddled with commands to welcome the stranger, to provide for the outsider, to love the Other. The more firm man-made boundaries become in our minds and hearts, the more we’ll see the Other as the enemy.

But even if we see them as enemy, I think Jesus said we should love our enemies. Either way you look at it, from the Christian perspective, is it possible that we’re thinking about immigration as Americans rather than as Christians?