To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice


I’m finding the Christian life hard. I know in my head that it is actually impossible—that living in obedience isn’t a matter of trying harder but trusting more.

But what does that mean practically when we’re faced with issues like Arizona’s illegal immigration law?

I feel like this issue might be a lot like the AIDS issue back in the ’80s. Some Christians were saying that homosexuals and drug addicts, who were the majority of the victims at the time, brought the disease on themselves by their lifestyle, so what responsibility did we who were straight and drug free have to do with helping those who suffered?

So illegal immigrants are illegal. They broke the law. Does that mean we should withhold medical treatment? Deny education to their children?

On the other hand, does it mean we give any resident, no matter how they arrived in the US, the right to vote, such as has been recently proposed, or give amnesty and declare all illegals legal?

What does obedience require?

Sacrifice in the Scriptural context would seem to refer to going through the motions when it comes to worshiping God. He doesn’t want empty gestures. He wants our lives—our care for orphans and widows and strangers. Our justice, mercy, and humility. Our whole-hearted love for Him. Our love for our neighbors.

And who are our neighbors? Might they not be illegal immigrants?

Anyone who’s studied history knows that what we’re dealing with today isn’t so very different from what our nation experienced during other immigration surges. Except for this illegal angle. But the complaints are the same—immigrants not learning English, draining our resources, introducing “un-American” ways.

Similar charges were leveled at Germans, Irish, Japanese at points in our history..

But how is a Christian to respond? How is a Christian to obey God? How is a Christian to think Biblically about treating illegals as we would want to be treated ourselves?

And lest we get too self-righteous about those breaking the law, when was the last time any of us broke the speed limit?

Oh, not the same category of law breaking, some may think. But isn’t the book of James true when it says if we break the law at one point, we’re guilty of all? So we who are guilty, stand before our Creator and beg His mercy, which He bestows on us because of His Son.

We, then, must go and extend mercy to he who owes us.

Finally, wouldn’t a policy advocating mercy and compassion, however it is framed, be a testimony to the world? Which most reflects God’s heart—withholding social services and public education from illegal immigrants, or finding a workable compromise that allows illegal immigrants to take a path to legal immigration?

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