25 Reasons Why Christians Should Welcome (Not Ban) Immigrants & Refugees
In my own life, I have recognized that my reading of Luke has varied depending on life circumstances.
When I have been poor, I have found extreme comfort in seeing ”poor” without qualification – a reminder that God remembers me in my physical poverty. And when my economic condition has been better, my reading moves towards Matthew’s ”poor in spirit,” meaning that I focus more on spiritual poverty. I mention that because as we read Luke (whether in poverty or affluence), we need to be aware that our economic “lens” may influence our reading of the text.
So in the times of life when you have abundance, remember that others, such as those in impoverished countries, are reading Luke differently than you. That’s not to say that their exegesis is better or worse. It’s a reminder to always see the rawness of Luke’s gospel — keeping in mind that poverty is not merely about a lack of means, but a lack of well-being.
In other words, poverty affects people holistically, since poverty often results from economic enslavement to a person or a system. So at the end of the day, poverty is not so much about possessions, but powerlessness. It is easy to lose hope when overwhelmed with poverty, but into that hopelessness, Luke speaks a powerful word: “Blessed are the poor.”
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.
Barak Obama’s shining moment in the State of the Union debate, and possibly the only memorable moment for the public, was his insistent call for a vote on gun legislation. His tactic — repeating how those affected by gun violence “deserve a vote” — emerged out of necessity and sagacity. Here are two quick lessons that we can learn from the address:
Necessity. Polarization (whether in the workplace, home, or church) prohibits meaningful dialogue, and those who sincerely want change will seek to build consensus. While some will critique Obama’s mention of real-life victims for emotional effect, the point is that real-life issues require a response rather than no response at all.
Sagacity. Effective leadership calls people beyond where they, but never beyond what than they can handle. Our violent-ridden and blood-infatuated society does not want to deal with the deeper issues at hand, but certainly all reasonable people can agree to vote. After all, if you can’t vote, what are you afraid of? Using subtly for effect, understatement attempts to move people toward a response.
Apart from politics, all of us can learn from the rhetoric used in Obama’s fifth State of the Union address. Whether you are a leader, a parent, an overseer, or a preacher, the 2013 SOTU should remind us of the need for consensus and the brilliance of understatement.
On this wonderful MLK day, let us remember the sacrifice and dedication of all those who have continued Christ’s work of bringing together all people. Our God is a God of reconciliation, and He is the one who unites different races and ethnicities. Let us celebrate His work through His Son and through His people.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us… He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
(Selections from Ephesians 2-3)