Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Christian's Attitude About the Issue of Immigration: A Nazarene Episcopal Perspective

Last Thursday, November 12, I received a "Pursuing . . . The Way of Holiness" email from the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene.  "Pursuing . . . The Way of Holiness"  is a newsletter that features episcopal statements, thoughts, words of inspiration, etc. from our various general superintendents.  This particular one was adapted from a Holiness Today article from May/June of 2012. 

The article is important as we hear political candidates debate concerning what to do with our "undocumented" or "illegal" immigrants in the United States.  Added to this is the refugee crisis that we and especially those in Europe face.  -  I think that it is important to note that this article was emailed just before the terrorist attacks in Paris.  That horrific event admittedly adds another dimension to the discussion.  Nevertheless, I think that this is a very good reminder and example of how our faith shapes our actions and attitudes in this world.  It is also noteworthy that this article was not written as a reaction to the current immigrant debates, but rather was originally published in 2012.

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday.  I expect to be preaching from the Gospel lectionary passage where Jesus is being questioned by Pilate.  I find the contrast to be striking when comparing some of the rather . . . enthusiastic comments by some Christians on Facebook concerning France's military retaliation for the terrorist attacks, and the equally enthusiastic calls for U.S. action, over against Jesus' words in response to Pilate.  There, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." 

It seems to me that, as those who are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have to determine how that citizenship influences how we act as citizens of the United States.  While I think that there should be space to think through and debate what our government's actions ought to be concerning terrorism, I also think that an attitude consistent with the Kingdom of God should at least squelch the kind of "all in," enthusiastic calls for "nuking them" and "bombing them to the stone age."  -  I would note that when Dietrich Bonhoeffer participated in the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, he did not do so with the kind of enthusiasm I hear from some of my sisters and brothers.  Even though he concluded that he needed to be a part of the plan to kill Hitler, he did so knowing that he was taking guilt upon himself.  He said, "Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace."

++ Jerry D. Porter
The article by our general superintendent, the Rev'd. Dr. Jerry D. Porter, brings the "Kingdom attitude" to bear on the issue of immigration. 

Since the email indicated that the article was "used with permission," and since it did not allow Facebook sharing, I am not copying it, here.  Nevertheless I encourage you to follow the link to its original source.  The Immigrant Among Us

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