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?

CSFF Blog Tour – By Darkness Hid, Day 3

A year ago CSFF Blog Tour maintained the policy not to feature print on demand books. Our administrative team revisited that position, in large part, because of Jill Williamson’s urging. Happily we changed the policy to include any books published by royalty paying houses. As a result, we’re privileged to spotlight By Darkness Hid (Marcher Lord Press, 2009).

I say “privileged” and I mean it. First, as CSFF member and regular participator Phyllis Wheeler pointed out, this wonderful book is batting 1.000, or nearly so, when it comes to positive reviews and recommendations:

“This tour is unusual: everyone who posted loved the book. Last time that happened, it was Stephen Lawhead who was the author.”

I love when this happens. CSFF aims to feature good books so readers can find them and so publishers can see there’s interest in good speculative fiction. We stress the importance of each blogger saying what they want about the books they review. Consequently, it’s usual to get some of us taking issue with writing or subject matter or entertainment value or worldview. Not so, for the most part, this time around.

The fix is not in. Bloggers are quite specific about what they love—from the characters to the Christian content to the fast pace to the intrigue to the unique world.

Simply put, By Darkness Hid is the kind of book that makes it fun to be on the tour.

But there’s more. It’s a privilege to feature By Darkness Hid because Jill Williamson is such a gracious author. Not to mention that she’s also an active CSFF Blog Tour Member.

First she’s been available for a number of excellent interviews. They’re all good, but I might specifically recommend the two part-er John Otte posted here and here. In addition, Jill has done a wonderful job touring our sites and leaving comments. It’s been a delight to see her interact with so many.

And all this was to be set up for what I actually wanted to talk about. I wanted to follow up a little on the power issue I brought up in my last post.

A group of people seeking power for themselves anchored a key choice with the argument that they acted for the good of the country, regardless that they were going against the law. King Axel, they said, was a weak king because he treated the lowly with kindness. In so doing, he nearly destroyed the nation.

In answer, the king’s brother says, “Do not confuse compassion with neglect … My brother was loved by the people.”

The issue was rule of law vs. a strong, stable government, which the Council said could not take place if compassion for peasants and slaves was the guiding principle.

In some ways, this same conflict seems to be behind today’s illegal immigration debate (something we here in California are attuned to). On one hand is the rule of law, but in contrast to By Darkness Hid the opposition is (apparent) compassion for illegal immigrants.

In the novel, rule of law and compassion were on the same side, making the “it’s good for the country” argument suspect. In the illegal immigration argument, two important values seem to be on opposite sides of the fence. But do they have to be?

Honestly, Christians turning a blind eye to compassion for the sake of Law come across as far from the Grace we see in Scripture. What is it that God says He wants? For us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God.

Can we do all three? I don’t see how, apart from God’s strength and guidance. But depending on Him for wisdom to look at this issue in a different way than the world looks at it might be the very thing that sets Christians apart. We love differently, even those who are “Strays,” or at least we ought to.

There Is a God by Antony Flew

Antony Flew is one of the leading philosophers of the Twentieth Century. And an atheist. Or at least he used to be. In 2004 the 81-year-old scholar admitted publicly that he now believes there is a god. He still denies anything like special revelation—the actual communication of God with Man—but he “followed the evidence,” and found the arguments for intelligent design compelling.

This rather shocking about-face was reported in various news media, but a lengthy interview exploring Flew’s beliefs is available at Biola University’s Biola News & Communications.

There Is a GodThe book, There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (HarperOne, 2007) by Antony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese, released last month. Interestingly, I heard about it from Steve Laube at the ACW Conference in Anaheim the week the book came out. Little did I suspect I would be blogging about it in a matter of weeks.

Actually when Mir left her comment to yesterday’s post, I was trying to remember Flew’s name. Then, lo and behold, on the ACFW email loop, one of the writers mentioned the book! Well, I don’t believe in coincidences—I see God’s hand in bringing little details together. So I set out to learn a little about Flew.

First, I was surprised that his revelation came three years ago. I vaguely remember reading the headline of an article about his change of mind (clearly not yet a change of heart) in my local paper. Nothing more until Steve Laube told us the interesting tale of how he became Flew’s agent. Even then I didn’t realize this “news” was not new.

Of course, the book release is stirring up more conversation about the subject, and it is interesting. On one site, evidently visited predominantly by atheists, the reaction ranged from distain to relief. Distain because, surely if Antony Flew was really such an important, leading atheist, THEY would know who he was! Relief, because Flew may now believe in god, but he clearly does not believe in the Christian God!

In regards to the first point, I admit I didn’t know who Flew was either. Here’s the intro of his entry in Wikipedia:

Professor Antony Garrard Newton Flew (born February 11, 1923) is a British philosopher. Known for several decades as a prominent atheist, Flew first publicly expressed deist views in 2004

Evidently his prominence is in academia. He produced forty books or pamphlets in his field, a number specifically dealing with the subject of God’s existence.

That some other people came up with the idea that there is no god, apart from any apparent study or philosophical base is more telling of the weakness of their belief system, I would think. Their ignorance of such an influential thinker would be tantamount to my saying I’ve never heard of Charles Spurgeon or J. I. Packer or A. W. Tozer.

Regarding their “relief” that at least he doesn’t believe in the Christian God, I at first found it amusing, until I realized how that attitude reflected such a clear rejection of God Himself.

Much like Flew’s own rejection of God. The man was raised in a God-fearing home but turned to atheism because he couldn’t accept the idea of a good, wise, all powerful creator who would consign much of humanity to hell. In other words, he can’t resolve God’s goodness with His justice. My belief is, the resolution lies with His mercy.

Published in: on November 7, 2007 at 12:21 pm  Comments (21)  
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