Blessed Are The Illegal Immigrants...

"Blessed are they that are illegal, pushed down, and treated as inferior for they will one day be leaders, own property and see their children's children be treated equally." What would Jesus say to this downtrodden group in our day? As I thought through the Sermon on the Mount and the tremendous political implications of what he was saying in his day, and really highlighted the way immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, are treated in our country.
In preaching this past Sunday, I found myself in the wonderful text of Exodus 2-3. The parallels between the illegal immigrant cultures in this country and the Israelites in Egypt are immense. The Egyptian economy put the children of Israel at the bottom of the social rung making them do the jobs no one else would do. However, when Moses tried to free them, Pharoah would have nothing to do with it because he knew his economy depended upon the cheap labor of these Israelites. This seems to be the same issue facing us in our day. And often, it is those who follow this "Christianity USA" that endorse such ideas about immigrants in our country. Some want them to be deported and the rules to become more strict. Others don't want the immigrants deported and want to open up the borders because our economy depends upon cheap labor, especially in our world of outsourching.
Into this fray enters the gospel and the Biblical text. God hears the cries of these downtrodden people (who often cried to Moses saying "We would have been better off in Egypt." They did not know that God had better plans for them!). Why can we not treat these groups with dignity, pay them a good and fair wage, and extend the kingdom of God instead of choosing between these two equally horrible dichotomies of thought? Perhaps God would not have needed to take Israel out of Egypt if the Egyptians had been treating the Israelites with respect, dignity, and equality.


The Problem With ChristianityUSA

Today's headline of Pat Robertson suggesting the assassination of the Venzuelean President so angered me. This sounds like the middle ages. Christian leaders calling for outright violence and killing. Wow! Frankly, it is even hard to write this post, I am not sure what to say. No words can express the deep anger and frustration in me in regards to this going on. Of course, this one event did not set this off in me. It is in hearing these comments come from certain elements of the "Christian" culture here in the US over my lifetime. As well, the likes of Joel Osteen also get under my skin. I listened to him on TV for about 15 minutes a few nights ago. How can people really believe the crap coming out of his mouth? I am not accustomed to actually naming names in my post; however, I am really fed up, especially due to the fact that these people are very popular among certain "Christian" groups and with Osteen the popularity is growing. I see the same thing here in my city with a few of the popular churches and speakers right now. Many college age students are flocking to one church in particular. The pastor their is a very dynamic presenter with a very winsome personality. Personally, I think his teachings are often garbage and further enforce the very negative ideas that I have fought my whole life to overcome and get rid of. The true problem in all of this is that this supposed "Christianity" is nothing more than an idol that endorses the so much of our culture and adds some moralisms while acting as if it is opposed to the world system.
Enough ranting for now. Hopefully, I won't do this too often.


Isaiah 58

As I was at summer camp this past week, I often reflected on Isaiah 58 which talks about a "true fast" which requires doing justice and living rightly. Here is a portion of it from the TEV:
The LORD says, "Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their
sins! They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways
and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they
take pleasure in worshiping me." The people ask, "Why should we fast if the LORD
never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?" The LORD
says to them, "The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own
interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent, and you
quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your
prayers? When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like
a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you
call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that? "The kind of fasting I
want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let
the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to
the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not
refuse to help your own relatives. "Then my favor will shine on you like the
morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you
to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will
answer you. When you call to me, I will respond. "If you put an end to
oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give
food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around
you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy
you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden
that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your
people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old
foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored
the ruined houses.
Much of Isaiah rings with this same message. As well, when I read the minor prophets, these themes are resounded over and over again-- feed the hungry, welcome and care for the stranger in the land (who are the strangers in our society today?), loose the bonds of oppression. Worship requires not just living in our own forgiveness and healing, but extending it and offering it to others. This theme of salvation is being preached by a small few in the church-- may it resound in our day as it does so often throughout Scripture!


A Revealing God

That last posts conversation made me think about how God relates to his creation. As we look around we can see the imprint of God on all creatures. In reflecting on this, I was reminded of a paragraph in Jurgen Moltmann's book Creating a Just Future. He says/asks,

If we can find the "traces of God" in the nature of the environment, then can we
discover the "image of God" in ourselves.

How is God revealing Himself in us? What impact does this have on inspiration, revelation? We reveal God! As I moved from this thought to others, I began to become a bit more cautious. Are we not revealing our image of God? Have we not created God in our images rather than the reverse? Think of all of the things that you as an individual endorse as good, now compare these to what you believe God endorses as good-- I think for most of us, these two things line up almost perfectly. Has we taken clay and made idols?
As I moved from this thought-- it seemed to be a real downer and seemed to be so skeptical as to only end in total depravity of faith and reason-- I began to think about scripture and Moltamann's thoughts about the image of God. Indeed, God is revealed in all of creation, his fingerprints, his imagination, and his being are found everywhere-- even in our idols! Then again...