The conversations I've had, even with followers of Christ, seem to get divisive quickly. Have you found any effective ways for helping people see that immigration is more than a liberal/conservative issue?
My response? “Great question!”
I am thankful for it for two reasons. One, because I am primarily concerned about the way that Christians think, feel, and act regarding immigration, including illegal immigrants. Second, this question gives me an opportunity to propose some talking points among Christians.
So here they are:
1. This is a Conversation among Christians. This is a call for a conversation among all sincere followers of Jesus Christ. (At this point in our nation’s debate, I am not interested in talking with people that do not share our kingdom values. If all sincere followers of Jesus Christ would come together around Kingdom values and principles, we could truly change the world on this issue and many others as well.)
2. We are Citizens of Two Kingdoms. On one hand, we Christians are called to be submissive to the authority of our earthly country—Canada, The United States, etc. This includes obeying the laws of our land as much as possible. Every country has the right to defend its borders and enforce the laws of the land as long as they are reasonable and just. On the other hand, we are also citizens of a heavenly land—the Kingdom of God.
3. As Christians in This Country, We are Only Pilgrims in a Foreign Land. Frequently I hear believers say that our country is A Christian Nation, although history shows that this has never really been the case. It is true that a number of Biblical principles inspired our founding fathers. Even today, we can see God’s hand at work in many ways in our nation. However, America is not The Promised Land. Nor is This Land My Land and Your Land. It is God’s land, and we are only His stewards. Only by His grace was I was born into relative prosperity in this country while others are trapped in poverty.
4. We Are All Sinners Saved by God’s Grace. For some reason God has allowed millions of immigrants—legal and illegal—to come and live among us, some of them for several decades. No one is innocent or sinless before God. All of us need Salvation regardless of our ethnicity and legal status. Our ultimate hope is that our Father’s Kingdom will be come to pass on earth as it is in heaven. (For more on this point, see my blog post Good News for the Immigration Problem)
5. The Values and Principles of God’s Kingdom Should Have the Priority. Where there are conflicts between the laws of our country and the higher values and principles of our heavenly Kingdom, we owe our ultimate loyalty and obedience to God. The Immigration Statement of our church sets forth eight biblical principles that are in contrast with the views that are frequently heard in the media, on talk radio, and by the Tea Party. Many Christians who repeat these views are allowing the world to shape their thoughts more than the values and principles of our Lord’s Kingdom. In so doing, often they ignore the fact that submitting to the laws of our land is only one of many biblical principles. Furthermore, when the laws of our land are unjust and violate other more important biblical principles, we are called to obey God instead.
6. Jesus Cares about Marginalized People. Jesus gives special attention to those that the rest of the world often forgets—the poor, prisoners, the blind, the sick, strangers, immigrants (regardless of their legal status), women, and children. Furthermore, He calls us as citizens of God’s Kingdom to join Him and be His ambassadors of Good News in Christ Jesus. (Luke 4:18,19; 2 Corinthians 5:20)
7. My Greatest Concern is for Millions of Innocent Children. (Here I talk about several children that were either born here or brought to the states as young children. Today they live in the shadows with little or no hope of reaching their dreams, due to no fault of their own.)
So Dan, what do you think? Let me know if these talking points are helpful. In addition, I would welcome any suggestions on how to improve them.
More importantly, may God fill us with wisdom and courage to talk with our brothers and sisters in Christ about this topic. The adversary has many strongholds and we can expect opposition. On this matter, many of God’s people are allowing their thinking to conform to the pattern of this world. May we instead “be transformed by the renewing of [our minds]. Then [we] will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Your fellow Ambassador for Christ,