On the Other Hand…

Unless you live under a rock in a remote area of Alaska (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this), you’re most likely aware of a hot-button issue in the USA these days regarding “immigration.”  As can easily be noted in any forum, opinion page, comment section, blogs, Facebook posts and numerous other formats, most Americans have an opinion on the situation, and most Americans are sensitive about their opinions.

Understood.

If that describes you, I’d like to invite you to pull off the gloves, step out of the ring, and contemplate with me.  You might have try.  Real hard.  Humor me.

Let’s imagine for a moment.

 

Imagine you don’t have a U.S. passport…you’re not an American citizen.  In fact, let’s imagine you’re simply a bystander in heaven looking down on a very lost earth with a human population of around 7,000,000,000 souls, and every one of them has the same exact and imperative need above every other need.  The need to know God through Jesus Christ as Savior.

As you’re standing there in your celestial observation point, you notice something happening down there (down here).

What is happening?

There is a movement of people.  Lots of them.  Thousands upon thousands, maybe even a million or more.  They’re moving from a small strip of the earth northward through desolate areas into a different place.  A place that looks from up here to be a little better organized…the outline of the roads and the grid of streets are mostly straight and connected.  These people on the move are from places that look less so.  Of course, it’s hard to see specifics from so far away.

But you notice something else.  These people are coming out of places where the Gospel has never been well-presented nor well-accepted.  Places where believers have been at times killed with machetes, stones, and bullets.  Places were false religion is prominent and the true teachings of the Gospel are often unknown or blurred to the point of being unintelligible and useless.

But now they’re moving to a place where the Gospel has been clearly taught for generations upon generations.  There is freedom for believers to minister to these people who probably would not otherwise be in a place where they would hear the Gospel, where they would see a true believer living out the Gospel and showing the love of Christ to them.  These people are no longer within sight and sound and reach of a family and a culture and a religion that has held them tightly in the grasp of unbelief.  They now have the opportunity to be open in their hearts’ thinking.  They now have the opportunity to discover there is a Gospel that really is Good News and not just a set of rules and an obligation to conform and to give and to give and to give merely because in giving there is some faint hope of gaining.

But you might notice something else from your heavenly gaze.  You might see believers in that northern place who are angry.  Angry at what?  Angry that there are people that our Creator made who did not belong there and who have come close to them.  People who want to take their things.  People who want to share their nationality without “earning” it.  People who might even want to hurt them.

These believers might even be saying, “This cannot be!  This is wrong and this is un’northcountry’like.”  (After all, we’re just imagining this scenario!)

And so it’s a confusing scene.  After hundreds of years and many generations, an entire generation of lost people are now suddenly reachable by those who have and hold the Gospel.

But what will be made of this grand, heavenly opportunity by believers?

It appears that some are ready to fight and some are ready to reject the role of being a missionary on the very dirt where God decided to place them at birth or through a subsequent move.  It is still His dirt.  It is still His Creation.  They are still people He made in His image.  He did send His Son to die for their sins, and He did call all who believe in Him to share this Good News with everyone…with these people on the move.  And now, almost miraculously, there is no need to forsake all and to go away to seek them out, and to tell them.  They’ve arrived.  They’re on the doorstop of this “northcountry,” and whether they even know it or not, they are waiting to hear just what there is to hear in the Promised Land.

 

So, here we are.  Back on earth.  There is the ring and here are your gloves.  You can put them back on and get back in there if you feel you should.  Or maybe you’d like to put them down and start thinking of ways to share the Gospel with a people with no hope, no light, and no love.

What if it costs us our standard of living?  What if it costs us everything?  What if it means I have to pick up my cross and carry it daily?  What if it means I have to actually obey the Great Commission myself?

They may not speak your language, but Jesus commanded something about us as believers making disciples from “here” to the ends of the earth.  The ends of the earth just came to us.  Should we simply send it away?  Should we tell these people, “You weren’t born here.  God didn’t put you here (or did he?) and we don’t want you here.  GO AWAY!”  Or perhaps we should take off the gloves and put on the mind and heart of Christ and lavish these lost souls with the truth of the Gospel in word and in deed, and be ready to reap a harvest of disciples among a people who have yet to hear.

A “Bystander” in heaven is watching, waiting, and wanting to see His children see the world the way He sees it and to treat the people of the world the way He treats it.  He died for them and He died for us without regard to heavenly or worldly riches, without regard for language, morality, legality, culture, or cost.  He expects no less from His children who are entrusted with the Gospel of grace, peace, and love.  We’re just sheep following a Shepherd who is calling out the names of even more lost sheep as we go.  He’s seeking to save that which was lost, those who are “the least of these.”  Are we seeking them too?

 

Matthew 25:31-46 [NLT]

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

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4 Responses to On the Other Hand…

  1. David Snyder says:

    I think it is necessary to make a distinction about those in the “Northern Country” that may be engaged in this issue. I think there is a big difference between a personal call to help the “least of these” and a political call to tax others so that the Government can take care of the “least of these”. It is easier for some to take other people’s resources to feed and clothe the needy than to actually personally sacrifice to clothe the poor and needy.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that this is an unprecedented opportunity for these to hear the Gospel and see it lived out. I disagree that it follows that we should therefore give up the political struggle to keep the “Northern Country” as a nation that enjoys the blessings that come from following Godly principles as the rest of the world looks to Government as their God. (Even though this “Northern Country” increasingly calls to the Idol of Government as the provider of our needs, it is still less corrupted than the neighbors to the South).

    As more Governments fall to the corruption of Statism the problem of lack of resources is compounded. The political pressure to use the Government to Steal the resources of the productive has been played out over and over again in history. (See USSR, CUBA, and Venezuela as recent examples). It always results in more misery, more need, more poverty, and more desperate people.

    In my opinion, people’s physical needs are met by production. Production is the most effective when capitalism is allowed to prosper. Socialism will inevitably produce dramatically more human suffering.

    So, in my opinion, it is the “Christian Response” to defend production, which most effectively feeds and clothes the needy, and to preach the good news of Christ.

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    • alanbeth says:

      Thanks David, that’s a great point and worthy of being made. I’m contemplating a follow up post to this original one, but I’m also contemplating all the time it takes to produce any sort of opinion and deal with all the reactions that inevitably come. Again, my perspective is probably a bit different from most others because I really do have a different vantage point, and maybe because I’m just a little odd anyway! 🙂 Certainly, there are real economic and political issues in play. I think there is a major issue in play that isn’t really getting much “play time” in the media and thus in the discussions and responses that I’ve seen so far. That is the issue that I’m contemplating. Given I’ve never seen as many views of a blog post as this one has generated, it might be worth a part 2 as a follow up. Many people, believers, are concerned and also are thinking and want to have as much input into their thinking as they can. We want to do the right things and we want to please our God in what we decide to do or not to do. Thinking thoroughly and praying through all of this is certainly key to doing that. Thanks again for taking the time to offer a genuine response with some substance too. I do appreciate it. I hope others will read your comment. Appreciate you guys! Greetings to your wife. We miss our Dayton family! I hope we can come through next summer at some point.

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  2. alanbeth says:

    One other point I should make that I’m glad you mentioned, David. I don’t necessarily believe that we should not abandon the political process as part of the solution. There is no doubt that economically and politically, there are many ramifications, and probably many negative ones at that. By all means, part of our intricate web of Christian perspectives is that we are a part of a nation that operates in a more or less democratic fashion. Given that Scripture teaches us to submit to our authorities as those appointed by God and given our authorities are not kings or dictators (at least, last I knew) and that we have a representative system of government (at least, last I knew), then we should not think that we have to abandon that machination that God has appointed our government to be the government and to operate as it does (or at least, since it operates as it does), then we shouldn’t abandon that arena. My focus in this post is mainly to encourage us to consider doing more than just fighting for our political rights and perspectives and think of these people as people who need the Gospel (because they do). I don’t think we have any misconceptions that our government is going to share the Gospel with them because clearly that isn’t the case. My concern is that we should not develop hateful attitudes toward these people because of our political views. We should look upon them with love and compassion and if we need to do that while begging our government to take a particular stance, then so be it, but let’s not neglect the spirituality of the situation (i.e. of the people). Again, thanks for your healthy comment and for the opportunity to make that clarification as well…fwiw.

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  3. brooke says:

    “What if it costs us our standard of living? What if it costs us everything? What if it means I have to pick up my cross and carry it daily? What if it means I have to actually obey the Great Commission myself?”
    I love those questions! This is a very good perspective that more “Christians” should think about. God forbid we have to actually share the gospel with people in our homeland or take up our cross daily. This world is a light and momentary affliction, so if I have to live at a lower standard of living so that more people can come to my doorstep and hear the good news, then so be it! Sounds like missions work to me (which I’m pretty sure all Christians are called to do in some form (Matthew 28)).

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