In writing this, I am not seeking to take a political stance. I am not arguing in any direction for or against immigration reform. I merely want to bring to light a consistent attitude and perspective that has always existed, but has become increasingly present, especially in this season of rampant opinions and relentless assertion.
The American Way. Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. This nationalist ethos is what gives us chills during the National Anthem, drives us to go out and buy the biggest American flag Walmart sells, and makes us blare Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” at maximum volume. We have great pride for our country, and rightfully so. Millions of men and women have sacrificed their lives so that we can live in freedom, and that deserves to be celebrated. It deserves all the chills, goosebumps, and tears that are stirred. I’m not writing to argue that we shouldn’t love our country. In fact, if you know me personally, you know that that would be the furthest thing from my intention. “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” happens to be, and will always be, my favorite song. After Christmas (because that’s one day that just can’t be topped for me), July 4th is my favorite day of the year. I’m quite fond of the 2nd Amendment. And there’s nothing quite like BBQ on the lake. You get the point. I really love America. But above loving my country, I love the God who created all the nations of the world, including my country. And I don’t believe these two loves conflict.
As Americans, we are undoubtedly privileged. Some more so than others, but as citizens, we have rights that so many in other nations lack. The last time we woke up and consciously thought about our thankfulness for our Unalienable Rights was probably never, but needless to say, they’re still there.
With the privilege to these rights, its become common for us, as Americans, to hoard. We want to keep them all for ourselves and deprive anyone who didn’t win the birth lottery, by being born in The States, of them.
What does this look like in action? “You’re in our country–speak our language.” Expecting immigrants to conform to our cultural standards of dress; assuming every immigrant is here illegally and desiring their deportation; or a recent finding on Facebook: “I can’t go to a Muslim country and drink beer or wine, or eat bacon or pork BBQ; and my girlfriend isn’t allowed to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt in a Muslim-controlled country. So why the hell do Muslims think that they should be allowed to tell us that we should change our laws or customs in America to accommodate them?!” Classic.
We love the idea of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but we frown upon these ideals and rights being received by those coming from other nations. So to this, I ask, what if God had this same perspective when sending His Son to die? I suppose Jesus’s teachings may have gone something like this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that only those who get lucky and are in the right place at the right time may have life, and have it to the full.” This may be a stretch of a comparison, and in no way am I trying to distort Scripture or use an eisegetical method, however, this hypothetical edit does serve to illustrate the idea I’m trying to convey. If we, as both Evangelicals and Americans, are seeking to, foremost, serve Christ according to His teachings, we cannot ignore the importance of immigration to His Kingdom.
We are called to go to the nations. We are called to share the Gospel with the nations and create disciples. You know this, I know this, we all know this. But do our lives and our attitudes align with this commandment?
You’ll write a check for hundreds of dollars to support a family friend traveling to unreached people groups to share the Gospel, but when the issue of Muslim immigration is raised, your first instinct is contempt and the need for said Muslim to conform to the so-called American Way. But where is the logic in this?
While I firmly believe there are procedures that need to be in place for immigration, and security is absolutely essential for this country, I also believe that immigration should be viewed as a gift from God. People from around the world are literally giving up everything they have to be welcomed here. We, as Americans, are in an incredible position to do that welcoming. God is, quite literally, bringing the nations to us. How much easier could obeying the commands of the Great Commission be? But instead of accepting the Muslim’s attire and culture, meeting them where they are, seeking to serve them, and loving them with the truth of the Gospel, our instinct is to reject them until they can create of themself a cookie cutter version of an American.
Please comment/email/knock on my front door if I’m wrong, but I have never heard of a time in history when human hatred has been the leading source to exposing the love of the God. It really is so simple. However, I understand it’s more simply said than done when nationalism takes it’s grip. But I encourage you, American, to take a step back from the fervent red, white, and blue you feel pulsing through your veins, and gaze at the greater picture the Creator of the Universe has been painting since the beginning of time. We are blessed to play a role in His story–a story of love, grace, and redemption. We are blessed to live in an amazing place where we are free to share that story. Don’t let these blessings go to waste.
Instead of frowning at the foreign speakers in the mall, see if they speak any English and take interest in their stories. Sharing stories is the beginning of relationship building and a relationship is an incredibly advantageous platform for Kingdom building.
Instead of demanding foreign men and women dress according to the American standard, seek to learn about their culture and why they dress as they do. In doing this, you will be far more equipped with understanding of their backgrounds when sharing of the freedom that can be gained through a life in Christ.
Instead of even seeing someone as a “foreigner”, pray for eyes to see them as another soul. With this perspective, the Lord will break your heart for their salvation. Love will become your motivator and your sustainer.
Serve your God, serve your country, and serve those God brings to your country.