Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Illegal Immigrants or Refugees?

The problems at the southern border of the United States are complex. Since they involve life and death we ought to look beyond the economic impact of our policies, actions, motives, and thinking. The fact that much of the rhetoric surrounding the influx of children across our borders revolves around money is an indictment of the United States, and the professing church within the United States. Could it be that Christians who desire God’s mercy when applying the law of God to their own lives forget God’s mercy when insisting on applying immigration law to the lives of others? Which violation of which law deserves the greater punishment?

Frances Robles of the New York Times, in a July 9, 2014 article writes, “ ‘The first thing we can think of is to send our children to the United States,’ said a mother of two in La Pradera [Honduras], who declined to give her name because she feared gang reprisals. ‘That’s the idea, to leave.’

“Honduran children are increasingly on the front lines of gang violence. In June, 32 children were murdered in Honduras, bringing the number of youths under 18 killed since January of last year to 409, according to data compiled by Covenant House, a youth shelter in Tegucigalpa, the capital.”

As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has pointed out, children from Honduras do not represent a crisis of illegal immigrants, they represent a refugee crisis – and yet the United States Government, state governments and, it appears, much of the professing church, fails to acknowledge that many of these children are, in fact, refugees from war-torn areas – gang wars are just as lethal as other wars, just ask parents in our inner cities, just ask parents in Honduras. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

And Yet Your Have Not Come To Know Me?

I wonder if I’ve come to know Jesus. Or perhaps I should ask, “I wonder how well I really know Jesus?”

For the past few days I’ve been taken aback by the interchange between Jesus and Philip in John Chapter 14.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father, how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” [John 14:8-10].

We can get so wrapped up in the distinction between “knowing about” Jesus versus “knowing” Jesus when it comes to salvation that we may miss the question as disciples, “How well do we really know Jesus?”

I’m not sure I can answer the question in terms of myself. I don’t know how well I know Him because there is so much of Him to know and I’m realizing, in some measure, how much there is about Him that I’m unaware of. It is somewhat like looking back over childhood and seeing yourself from an adult perspective, realizing how childish and unaware you were of your surroundings. It is also like looking back over your adult life and seeing things you completely missed, people and events you didn’t understand, mistakes you made, sins you committed.

What did Philip think when he heard Jesus’ words? Philip thought he knew Jesus, it was Philip who found Nathanael and said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” John 1:45. For three years Philip had been with Jesus, but Jesus says to him, “…and yet you have not come to know me Philip?”

Sad to say, but good to know, that I can see there’ve been times when I’ve thought Jesus was a “movement” or a doctrinal paradigm or a genre of music and worship or even a lifestyle. Philip knew he’d found the Messiah, that’s why he found Nathaniel and told him about Jesus, what Philip didn’t know was that he’d found so much more than (his understanding of) the Messiah – he’d found God. Philip not only found the one whom Moses and the prophets spoke of, he’d found the One who called Moses and the prophets and spoke to them.

As I ponder how well I really know Jesus, I want to know Jesus better today and love Him more today than I did yesterday. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to answer the question of how well I really know Jesus, other than to say, “Not as much as I want to.”

Lord Jesus, help us to know you better today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jesus Wants Us To Be With Him

I’ve been meditating on the Upper Room (John Chapters 13 – 17) this year; I suppose if there is a Biblical place where I’m prone to live it is the Upper Room, moving from foot-washing (the Outer Court) to deep intimacy with the Trinity in John 17 (the Holy of Holies).

It struck me the other morning how deeply Jesus desires to be with us. Consider:

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” John 14:3.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am…” John 17:24a.

Jesus begins His extended Upper Room discourse expressing His desire to be with us, He concludes this discourse in prayer to the Father and again expresses His desire to be with us. Jesus wants us to be with Him; He wants to be with us.

Jesus’ language throughout the Upper Room is intimately relational – He speaks of loving and abiding and obeying and learning and hearing and seeing and praying. He concludes His prayer to the Father with these words:

“…and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them,” John 17:26, emphasis mine.  

Jesus wants the Father’s love to be in us, and He wants to live in us – Jesus wants to be with us. Do we want to be with Him?

Do I want to be with Jesus today? Not in some indefinable nebulous sense, but do I want to live today’s hours and minutes with Him? Do I want to be with Him as I make decisions and speak words and interact with others? Do I want His presence to be with me as the air I breathe?
Perhaps more importantly, do I realize how much Jesus so deeply wants to be with me? Do we realize how greatly He desires to be with us? Do you know how much Jesus wants to be with you?

Jesus came, lived, died…bearing our sins, bearing all that we’ve done and all that we are…so that we might be with Him.