Remember, you don’t give life to the root. The root gives life to you.

photo by BrittneyBush

“Some of the natural branches have been broken off. You are a wild olive branch. But you have been joined to the tree with the other branches. Now you enjoy the life-giving sap of the olive tree root. So don’t think you are better than the other branches. Remember, you don’t give life to the root. The root gives life to you. ” (Romans 11:17–18, NIrV)

I am often reminded of this verse when in the middle of the immigration debate – which is often (irrespective of SB1070).

The arrogance and assumptions made by both sides are disheartening.  Thorough analysis of a complicated situation that literally has lives and families hanging in the balance seems rare – replaced by angry mobs chanting the talking points of whichever political leaders/reformers have caught their ears.  It is a good reminder that no matter which branch you consider yourself, cultivated or wild, you are simply enjoying the benefit of the root which is supporting you – not the other way around.  Everything can change, and quite quickly.

“Then the Lord God sent a vine and made it grow up over Jonah. It gave him more shade for his head. It made him more comfortable. Jonah was very happy he had the vine. But before sunrise the next day, God sent a worm. It chewed the vine so much that it dried up. When the sun rose, God sent a burning east wind. The sun beat down on Jonah’s head. It made him very weak. He wanted to die. So he said, “I’d rather die than live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you have any right to be angry about what happened to the vine?” “I do,” he said. “In fact, I’m angry enough to die.” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine. But you did not take care of it. You did not make it grow. It grew up in one night and died the next. Nineveh has more than 120,000 people. They can’t tell right from wrong. Nineveh also has a lot of cattle. So shouldn’t I show concern for that great city?” ” (Jonah 4:6–11, NIrV)

Just a hint – the worm is not the unauthorized immigrants to our country.

You are a recipient of grace and mercy.  You have been bestowed a tremendous privilege of living in the United States, the most prosperous nation in the world.  Remember where that life really comes from.  You aren’t it.  Ultimately our faith must not be in gov’ts, economies, reform movements, border protection, etc.   It must be in the grace and mercy freely poured out from the Father through Jesus Christ and subsequent transformation that comes from individual hearts set free.

Ultimately, followers of Christ should be more concerned about getting people into the Kingdom than in getting them out of the country.  They should do more searching of the Scriptures for guidance than scanning the channels.  The most disheartening part of these debates is how little of the former and how much of the latter is the norm for the body of Christ today.  May God have mercy on us.

The biggest challenge to our nation is an internal one and it is not immigrants.  We must have both revival and an awakening or we will not stand.  No amount of law enforcement nor border protection will change that fact.

God’s Grace in the Midst of Decadence

“Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the Lord’s people. If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death. And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.” (1 Samuel 2:22-26, <!–[endif]–> The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.)

1 Samuel 2-4 is shows an amazing contrast.  Like in a movie, the narrative flashes back and forth between the epitome of decadence (Eli’s sons blatant sins of comission and Eli’s own sins of omission) and a child humbly serving and ministering before the Lord.  Here we find every parents hope and every parents nightmare.  The hope is that our children would grow up to lead our world toward justice and righteousness, our nightmare is that they would harden their hearts, towards both and reap the consequences for themselves and others (34000 die as a result of their unfaithfulness).

future-leader

photo by BrittneyBush

Our nation bears the reputation a “Christian” nation.  Of course the followers of Christ know how far from that we are.  We are at times simply awestruck by the decadence that surround us, even penetrating the church.  But in God’s grace, He is still raising leaders for times such as these.  I wonder how many we will miss though.  For I am convinced that many of our most dynamic leaders are being raised up in the multitudes of bilingual, bicultural second generation immigrants that our current policies often have relegated into the shadows (a generation without a country).

To my friends who fell for the idea that our current president would do better on immigration policy, yo les dije, no pasara.  They’ll take it up…when it’s the right time.  I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting.  Look for the slogan change: ‘No, no podemos!’  But I digress.

My real concern is that we are not doing much better in our churches.  We are missing out on countless future world changers because our outreach methodologies (churches based upon homogenous unit principles) simply DO NOT cut it.  There are few if any churches that truly allow them to keep one foot planted in the english world they are growing up in and one foot planted in the spanish language and culture they also are growing up with.  The spanish language works tend to center around the first generation and often become enclaves that serve to ‘preserve’ the parents culture as much as they are missional to the surrounding community.  Meanwhile, the english congregations often have not adapted their culture to the needs of the community, content rather to plant a mission for them.  There simply are no appropriate ‘boxes’ for them.

When those second generation kids reach adulthood they have to choose between the spanish language church of their parents (and it really belongs to their parents) or find an english congregation that has yet to adapt to their unique culture.  Fallout rate from the church is high for all groups but in this particular demographic, it is compounded by this unfortunate choice we have forced upon them.

We must pursue bilingual (or multi-lingual), multi-ethnic missions and church bodies.  The reason we don’t – ‘we don’t have leaders’.  It’s a circular thing.  We’ve got to do it first, to produce the leaders we need to produce more.  But as I mentioned before – we usually have a lot invested in the status quo.  It is no different in church politics.  It’s time we stop propping up the status quo and start pursuing intentionally multi-ethnic ministries.