Archives For immigration

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This past Sunday night in our small group, we came upon the following verse from 2 Timothy 2:25:

Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth

It hit me pretty clearly that I have not been doing this in the past week in my blog articles about Donald Trump, immigration and refugees.

Whenever I see the poor, vulnerable and oppressed and I see Scripture that tells me to defend them, I can easily become over-emotional.  I can relate with Peter when he cuts off the Roman guard’s ear during Jesus’s arrest (John 18:1-14).  He’s probably just doing his best Elijah impersonation, thinking God will be pleased with his zeal.  Instead he gets put in his place by Jesus, the revealed King of an upside-down kingdom.

While the zeal I have for the oppressed is truly rooted in Scripture and in compassion, it also gets mixed up with my own pride.  Pride that I’m right.  Pride that is impatient.  Pride that is judgmental.  Pride that reverts to name calling, quick fixes, and black-and-white, for-me-or-against-me thinking.  Pride that is sin.

I will go to a conference or training on some element of caring for the oppressed and come home high as a kite on all my zeal.  I’ll tell my wife all about it and my new enlightened wisdom (and essentially how she and the Church are failing).  This upchucking of zeal isn’t helpful at all.  It short-circuits the chance for anyone to learn and it short-changes the process God uses to teach us things.  A slow, gradual, humble process.

With immigration reform, I got sucked in.  I was reading some blog posts from Christian activists and started zealously typing myself.  I wanted in on this.  I wanted to be on the right side of history, with my name next to the oppressed, and I didn’t care who I had to fight to do it.

The thing is, Jesus never fought.

Fighting comes from pride.  It also comes from thinking we are in control and have the power…again signs of pride.

In addition, we all have biases we bring to the text of Scripture.  All of us; myself definitely included.  We need to do our very best to objectively strip away these biases, but the only way to do that is with humility.  And if we notice bias others are bringing with them, we must not act as if we ourselves are not encumbered with the same disability.  We must speak the truth in love.

Which of course can only come be accomplished with humility.

I know I need to change how I talk and write about biblical justice issues in the future.  And I know I will indeed continue talking and writing about these topics, I don’t really have a choice.  To attempt not to would result in the same response Jeremiah had in Jeremiah 20:9,

his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot.

I am going to do my best to slow things down.  Frankly, I’ll take any advice those reading this can give me.  To not make things so black-and-white, for-me-or-against-me, like there are only two options or two ways to apply or interpret a Scripture text.  To give the benefit of the doubt.  To show respect to how the other side came to its conclusions.  To do my best to humbly, lovingly and gently lay out the factual or Scriptural items that took me from Point A to Point B so that people who are at Point A can receive it and see if the Lord is leading them to Point B as well.  He might not be.  Or it might not be this second.  But that’s the beauty of the Lord being in control and the Lord using his words and education to grow us.  We’re all wired differently and he’s going to work on us differently, with different timing and in different areas, in different ways.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ that I’ve offended with my zeal, to those who feel I’ve cut off their ears, I sincerely apologize.  Please know my heart is rooted in Scripture and being faithful to every page of it.  Pray for me as I learn what “faithful” means.  Pray that faithful is mixed with grace and humility rather than the silent assassin of pride.

Quick, what’s your take on immigration?

Well that depends if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.

What’s your take on abortion?

Again, it depends on if you sport the elephant or the donkey.

On helping the poor.

On Syrian refugees.

On systemic racism.

Even on sexuality.

Of these many hot button issues, where do you go to get your guidance?  Sure, there is the Sunday School answer of “Jesus” or “the Bible,” but it only takes a stroll down Facebook lane to see Christians are getting their answers to these moral and spiritual dilemmas from the mouth of the elephant or donkey, not from the Lamb of God. Continue Reading…

Dear Refugee, (Documented and Undocumented) Immigrant, Muslim & African-American:

This is a letter to tell you you are loved.  I love you and many others do as well.  Recently some have spewed hate in your direction.  They’ve scrawled it on bathroom walls, spray-painted it on dugouts and have told you to go back to “where you came from.”

Graffiti of swastika on a softball field dugout in Wellsville, N.Y., Nov. 9, 2016.(Photo: Brian Quinn, Wellsville Daily Reporter) Click to read the USA Today article

Graffiti of swastika on a softball field dugout in Wellsville, N.Y., Nov. 9, 2016. (Photo: Brian Quinn, Wellsville Daily Reporter) Click to read the USA Today article

These people do not represent all of us and they do not represent me.

Notably, these people do not represent Jesus or his Church.

With this recent election, there have been some tragic dots connected by many: there is a renewed outburst of racial hate speech (that you have had to endure)… which people feel free to do because Trump is the President-elect… because Trump gathered many of his followers based on racist caricatures and fear mongering… and Trump won the election because of Evangelical Christians (polls say 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump)… so this hate speech is now a reflection of Jesus and his Church.

And I know it’s not just the hate speech, but also some potential policies that might be barrelling toward some of you, and the fear and anxiety you currently have to live with of these policies. Continue Reading…

Noel Castellanos is the CEO of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and the author of Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God Is at the Center.  Noah Filipiak interviews Noel about the downside of American Evangelicals being obsessed with going to heaven, but neglecting much of Jesus’s example and teaching.  Noel talks “behind the curtain” about the challenge of doing urban ministry, but also the call behind it and the purpose it brings. 

The CCDA National Conference is coming to Detroit, MI on October 4-7th, 2017 so be sure to save the date to join us. Continue Reading…