Category Archives: Missions

IMG_4515
 
25 Reasons Why Christians Should Welcome (Not Ban) Immigrants & Refugees
1) God cares for all people, not just those inside a particular national border.
2) As Christians, global citizenship trumps national citizenship.
3) Christianity affirms that all people have the same value, regardless of their current religion, since all of creation comes from God.
4) The Good Samaritan story includes ethnic dimensions: (1) those outside of your ethnicity may surprise you with kindness, and (2) our neighbors include those of other ethnicities.
5) The Golden Rule requires it: treat others as you would like to be treated.  (If you were endangered, you would want someone to help you.)
6) Personal safety is not the ultimate ethic for Christians, while love is.
7) Political policies are not divinely insprired and often contradict God’s call for justice.
8) Political policies should never be superior to Christ’s commandments.
9) “Love your neighbor” is not limited by a country’s border and includes those from other countries.
10) Hospitality is an important motif throughout the Bible (e.g., Abraham welcoming the sojourners, Jews welcoming and not welcoming Jesus, the Apostles welcoming Paul, etc.)
11) “Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you” includes atheists and those of other religions.
12) Religious litmus tests may increase personal safety, while hindering the spread of the gospel.
13) Religious litmus tests are inaccurate; after all, some people within our own churches are “faking it” for one reason or another.
14) Religious litmus tests work against the gospel, since at one point, you yourself were not a Christian; being banned by Christians would have turned you away from, not towards, the faith.
15) Welcoming other religions to your country offers an opportunity for mission without ever leaving your homeland.
16) Ignoring human rights issues for the sake of personal safety merely perpetuates the problem.
17) Love always involves some degree of risk, so risk itself is not an excuse not to love.
18) The innocent, such as children, should not be slaughtered with the guilty.
19 Abraham was a sojourning immigrant (in Egypt).
20) Joseph was an enslaved immigrant (to Egypt).
21) Israel as a nation was an immigrant (in Egypt), poorly mistreated yet protected and rescued by Yahweh.
22) Moses was a refugee and immigrant (in Egypt).
23) Jesus was a refugee (in Egypt).
24) In the Bible, marked by the recurrence of Egypt, the necessity of immigration and the importance of hospitality cannot be ignored.  (Lev. 19:33-34)
25) Jesus sacrificed His personal safety for the betterment of others, including those outside (Gentiles) of His own ethnicity (Jewish).

armageddon

To begin with, I acknowledge (and would encourage others to acknowledge) the complexity of Revelation. Amidst the varieties of interpretations, the worst in my mind would be the kind that oversimplifies and overlooks the complexities of Revelation. If we claim to understand every image or symbol without any qualification, then maybe our hubris is preceding our exegesis.

That being said, neither do I think that Revelation is beyond comprehension for the average reader — especially the average reader in the time of the Apostle John. He was not writing a “code book” with codes that could only be deciphered by religious elites in a closed room. Nor was he writing a book that a single individual in the 21st century would “decode” somehow. Neither of those options fit with the biblical version of Christianity that I know, and they sound more like gnosticism than orthodoxy.

Based on those underlying principles, my primary approach to Revelation is to ask, “What was John communicating to his original audience?” before asking, “What does this say about the future?” Of course, the two questions are interrelated, but the if we limit ourselves to future questions, then John’s text would have been nearly useless to his contemporaries. Thus, questions of the “present day” (i.e., John’s day) should remain at the fore as we read what John was saying about the future.

This leads me to read Revelation as thus: How do these texts encourage, correct, or instruct believers in light of John’s vision of the future? Or in other words, how does the apocalypse affect readers in a personal, practical, and proximate way? In answering those questions, I see Revelation as presenting the following argument: Eagerly anticipate the Coming King because certain and decisive victory awaits His faithful ones.

While there are warning passages throughout the book, the overall message is one of confidence and encouragement. No one — not the Jews, not the Romans, not the Babylonians, not Satan himself — can defeat the King of all Kings. By looking to the end, believers can be confident, avoiding temptation and remaining strong in the present age — even in the face of brutal enemies and potential martyrdom.

 

Crown of thorns on a wooden background - Easter

Christians, love in victory and in defeat.

When looking at situations throughout history and around the world, we know that Christians are not defeated by governments or political movements. Christians are not defeated by fire (Nero), policy (Mao Zedong), poverty (Indian castes), expulsion (Columbian tribes), terrorism (al-Shabaab), kindnappings (Boko Haram), or beheadings (ISIS). Oddly enough, Christians are not even defeated by crucifixion.

Even still, if you feel defeated by recent events, keep in mind that in every situation (not only situations of our choosing), Christ taught us to love God and to love our neighbors. Those are not conditional, but unconditional commandments — and are even more applicable in times of uncertainty, challenge, and confusion. So no matter how you feel, remember that we serve a resurrected King, and in His Kingdom, true love never waivers.

small_magnus es domine

What makes Jesus unique from all other teachers or prophets?  According to Mark, John, Paul, and the author of Hebrews, here is a brief list to start:

  • He created the world, preexistent before creation. (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:15-19)
  • He lived a sinless life, fulfilling every obligation of the Law. (Hebrews 4:14-15)
  • He suffered for sinners, taking holy wrath upon Himself. (Romans 5:9)
  • He made peace with God, mediating between God and man. (Romans 5:1)
  • He rose from the dead, defeating both evil and death (Mark 16:1-13; John 20:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:57)
  • He reigns with absolute authority, interceding as our eternal high priest. (Romans 8:34)
  • He indwells the hearts of His people, comforting and assuring them.  (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 13:5)
  • He will come again, welcoming His people into His presence for eternity. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
  • He is God, who alone fulfilled all of God’s promises. (John 1:1-18; 2 Corinthians 1:20)

blogpost_default_blue21-620x200

Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
“Who will go and work today?
Fields are white and harvests waiting,
Who will bear the sheaves away?”
Loud and long the master calls you;
Rich reward he offers free.
Who will answer, gladly saying,
“Here am I. Send me, send me”?

If you cannot speak like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus;
You can say he died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked
With the judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children
To the Savior’s waiting arms.

If you cannot be a watchman,
Standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven,
Offering life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your bounties
You can do what God demands;
You can be life faithful Aaron,
Holding up the prophet’s hands.

Let none hear you idly saying,
“There is nothing I can do,”
While the multitudes are dying
And the master calls for you.
Take the task he gives you gladly;
Let his work your pleasure be.
Answer quickly when he calls you,
“Here am I. Send me, send me!”

Hymn # 318 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Joseph Barnby
Tune: Galilean
1st Published in: 1869