Ever since Betsy Ross penned the Star Spangled Banner and the twelve original colonies drafted our Bill of Rights, Americans have demanded that their popularly elected leader(s) uphold the religious freedoms that this great country was founded upon. Are you one of them?
Hopefully you were able to recognize the errors in the above paragraph readily. If not, you are in the “good company” of 60% of America’s students. Recognizing that there are mistakes in the above paragraph is one thing, knowing the correct answers is another. What is Betsy Ross most famous for? Who did write the Star Spangled Banner? How many original colonies were there? Who drafted our Nation’s Bill of Rights? Why was it necessary to amend our Constitution ten times immediately after writing it? Do Americans directly vote for all of their leaders? Is there religious freedom in this country? What were the reasons people formed the United States of America (not why they came, but why they formed a nation)? These are all history trivia questions you might argue, yet they are standardized questions that need to be properly answered for those desiring citizenship in this country. Those legally applying for citizenship take a test where these questions, and many more, are asked of them. How many of us could become citizens of our own country if we had to take this test?
Legally we might not be able to become citizens of our own country based upon today’s standards, but, by God’s grace, we do not have to worry about that. Our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents came to this country to escape economic hardship and religious persecution. They came because America was a land of freedom, a land of opportunity. Sailing under the maternal gaze of a statue in Ellis Island they were welcomed into our country and given the opportunity to make it on their own. There were hardships here, there was corruption and deceit waiting for them, and there were other economic and political hardships to endure, but they survived through it all. They called America their home and planted themselves, their culture and their faith in our land. Together, with all of the other plantings from abroad, our nation has blossomed and grown on the world scene. Can we now deny that opportunity to anyone else? Have things drastically changed over the past 100 years that makes this impossible?
“But our ancestors came here legally! Those Mexicans are just coming over the border, having babies and stealing our jobs.” There is truth in those commonly heard sentiments, and they do need to be addressed, but other, underlying, sentiments remain our focus in this article as reformed young people. Briefly, in the first place, we need to ground ourselves in a proper historical perspective of the issue. Secondly, we need to honestly identify our true impetus for dissatisfaction. Thirdly, we need to see how we are to view this issue as Christians, and finally, we need to realize that we need to be careful what we wish for in light of all three.
The United States of America is an immigrant nation. The terms “melting pot” and “salad bowl” represent theories that historians have used for years to describe our cultural and ancestral makeup. Why did explorers come to the New World? Who did they find already here? The imperialist nations and explorers were greeted with a land already occupied wherein the inhabitants had little use for the valuable resources that they themselves craved. The European white man came with hungry appetites, diseases and slaves. Mix in with them a little revolutionary spirit, a handful of imperialist countries, a healthy dose of economic and religious persecution, a couple of tyrannical rulers overseas and bake together with the concepts of Liberty and Freedom for about 250 years and you get our current situation.
Knowing our history is the easy part. Truly knowing ourselves is another. As Americans we understand what the concepts of Liberty and Justice are supposed to mean. We also appreciate the concept of religious freedom better than others. So why is there dissatisfaction, mainly against the Mexicans, over their immigration into our country? I commonly hear “because they are doing something illegally.” Let us take a look at this statement more closely. As Christians we are supposed to be offended at the breaking of a law and find justice only when laws in place are enforced. That is why we always pay our taxes to our federal government and never try to hide any of our income. That is why we always drive the speed limit and wear our seatbelts while we do so. That is also why we never shoplift, or try to steal time or resources from our employers. It is abnormal for us to be smoking and drinking underage, and never do we use the Internet for improper means. Our hypocrisy may know no bounds but illegality is not the underlying cause for all of the dissatisfaction. The fact of the matter is that “Americans” have preferences for those who they like and will tolerate. It is not an American thing; it is an aspect of our depraved human nature.
As Christians this attitude must never be found among us. Christ does not consider race, culture or skin color for membership within His body and neither should we. If our attitude is anti-Mexican, or even anti-Arab, how do we embrace our evangelism work as a church? We are opposed to them being in “our” country but we would feel comfortable sitting next to them in church for true worship? What about our mission work? We don’t want them coming into our country but we are willing to send a missionary to work among them? This does not make logical sense. By turning to God’s word we are guided in a proper Christian attitude and perspective on this issue. Ezekiel 47:22 immediately comes to mind. The Israelites were given a land rich in resources as part of the promise from the Lord. This land was their land, yet the Lord was informing them that there would be strangers in their midst. Verse 22 instructs the Israelites that these strangers in the land who live among them and have children in their midst were to be received as fellow countrymen that “have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel”. This was an Old Testament picture of the universality of Christ’s church being composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Rejecting them from the Promised Land was akin to attempting to remove them from God’s grace. Does this verse apply to our situation today? I believe it should: this land is not my land, nor your land, this land is the Lord’s. We are called to be wise stewards of it, to take care of it and to maintain it. Our goal is not an earthly goal of kingdoms and national strength but rather giving glory unto the Lord and to His church.
Knowing our own history and the prophesy of scripture should cause us to caution our own thoughts and words on this issue. Pushing for a country with rights only for the “true Americans” will soon be at the expense of the church. Once America begins to make a check list of those who are worthy to be called a citizen of this land, the tables will be turned on the church, for the church is an intolerant body that undermines the current societal trends of abortions, divorce, gay acceptance, wontonous living and vulgar language. How much longer will reformed persons be tolerated and considered profitable citizens in this land when we reject almost every aspect of it? More startling then is to where could we flee?
As we reflect upon the issue of citizenship in this country, let us not be moved out of fear of the tables being turned on us. We have the comfort and the hope of salvation that transcends any earthly power or situation. Rather, we must let the scriptures guide us in our attitude toward others. We are called to help others, especially those of the household of faith. I am not arguing for a careless disregard for the law, but neither should we argue for the adherence to the law as a facade to our hearts desires and in rejection to the blessings we have received, not earned. May we lean on the Lord to guide us as His servants in the application of this issue and in all of our dealings one with another.
In the days, months and years to come continue to discuss this issue with one another. This article is not intended to give you answers, nor limit your thoughts on this issue. Turn to the Bible to guide you and instruct you on how you are to respond as a pilgrim and stranger yourself here below. May many profitable discussions arise as you continue to see how His word applies to every situation and event in our lives.