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Immigrants crossing the border should be loved as Christ loves us

The winds of change are blowing. If you saw any news on May 1 or the days following, you saw crowds of immigrants marching streets of major cities and opposing groups during the next few days. Those crowds were demonstrating to influence the government decisions about future immigration policies. Many are seeking to have government enact laws to allow immigrants a way to become citizens of this country. Others are seeking to force those who are in the country illegally to leave. The issue has escalated through the years as huge numbers of Mexicans have illegally entered the country searching for a better life.

The purpose of theMay 1 demonstrations was to illustrate how many services are provided byimmigrants. Most major cities had problems because many from the workforce areimmigrants, some legal and some not. Restaurants and carwashes shut downbecause they had no workers.
No easy solutions aregoing to fix the problem, and it is not a new problem. It has been a worldproblem throughout history. Most of us are uncomfortable with and evensuspicious of people who are a different color or speak with an accent.
The Old Testamentorders life for descendants of Abraham so that they remain a people God willuse in bringing salvation to the whole world. God needed a nation descendedfrom the father of the faithful. So preventing intermarriage with other nationswas essential. When the Son of Man began to show that a new era was coming, someof his most memorable conversations occurred with a Samaritan woman and aSyrophonecian woman. Jesus modeled an acceptance of different people that Paulwould directly teach when he told the Galatian churches, “There is neither Jewnor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in ChristJesus.”
This teaching was noteasy for early Christians. Jewish Christians were uncomfortable with GentileChristians. In fact, many thought Gentiles should convert to Judaism and thenChristianity. It took a lot of love and teaching to help believers accept thosewho were different as equals.
Christians havecontinued struggling to accept different races. Even in this country where theconcept that “all men are created equal” has been a founding principle, Jewsand people of color have been held at arm’s length.
I am proud ofchurches across the country that have embraced ministry to Mexicans andHispanics. I celebrate those who are helping Mexicans learn English and theBible. I am proud of those who are tutoring children so that they can succeedin school. I respect churches that offer Spanish language worship services, butregularly bring Spanish-speaking and English-speaking believers together toworship God and encourage each other.
I am not proud thatwhite congregations and African-American congregations do not show the love andrespect God teaches. It remains true that Sunday morning is the most segregatedtime of each week. Blacks and whites have more respect for each other, but wehave not found ways to draw us closer together.
I am not proposingthat I know the solution to the political problems. I don’t know what should bedone to stem the flood of illegal immigration — from the South or the West. Idon’t know what to do for those who are in this country illegally. I don’t knowhow we absorb the Mexican farm workers who are essential to the agriculturalindustry of many regions. But I do know we must love all people. And we mustact for their good. I believe that this is a heart problem we must addressindividually and congregationally.
I think that each ofus should extend ourselves to show civility and respect to people whose colorand language are different from ours. We must mirror the actions and spirit ofJesus who accepted all peoples.
I am proposing thatChristians must raise voices of concern for immigrants. I think we must weighinto the debate and make sure that human rights and dignity are protected andpreserved.
As Congress battlesover immigration policies, each Christian must remember that Jesus died forall. God loves the Mexican lawn workers who flood neighborhoods throughout mycommunity as much as he loves me. And I have more chance to reach them in mycommunity with the message of Christ than I would have if they are starvingelsewhere.
Let’s use the windsof change to act with love, care and help for the spiritual state of immigrantsand people of color.

June 1, 2006

Filed under: Insight

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