I attended the New Wine, New Wineskins Immigration Reform conference on Saturday and it went very well.All the speakers and workshop leaders did a good job at presenting their talks and giving us good things to ponder, pray,and take away. I think that in my honest estimation I left with more questions about the immigration issue because I started to recognize the complexity of the issue. There is complexity in this issue on the part of the federal government and states laws and policies, liberals and conservatives, and in the Evangelical church in America.
Group conversations were conducted after an immersion experience of trying to show conference attendees an exaggerated and generalized idea of the complexity of the immigration process for immigrants themselves. People got frustrated about being treated poorly, unequal opportunity, and the length. It was interesting to be a discussion moderator and take notes on what people felt about the experience and the immigration issue. Below I will share a question that was asked and list 8 themes that people continually mentioned throughout discussing this question. I was able to take part in processing the survey information that was processed and discussed towards the end of the conference.
“Does your [faith perspective / religious tradition] shape your engagement on the issue of immigration reform?” “How?” or “Why not?”
I am removed from the issue because it doesn’t effect my everyday life.
We need to see people as made in the image of God.
We should try to be like Jesus and care for others.
Many come from a background of a church with one dominant culture in the congregation.
Laws should be followed because the Bible has a lot to say about obeying the government.
There was a general agreement that we need to study the Bible more about immigration.
Churches are not engaged or interested in the immigration topic as much.
As you can see, there are things that need to be thought through more in order to have a biblical worldview regarding this topic. As Christians there are so many reasons that we should strive to have a kingdom mindset when engaging this issue or any issue. Jesus commanded that we love God and we love people. We cannot neglect these commands. I also believe that we must deal with the baggage in our own house before we can go and change the world through reflecting on the past, repenting of sin, and building relationships with others towards a better future for the generations and culture around us. We must be deeply rooted in the love of Christ, worship of God, and the fellowship of the church by the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 4:17 comes to mind:
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
We must remind ourselves that we are all “sinners in the hands of an angry God” as Jonathan Edwards said. We must also be reminded that everything is continually moving because of God’s grace and sovereignty. Let us move with compassion towards others, and be in prayerful consideration for people of influence such as lawmakers, ministry leaders, and business people to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8).
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