Sunday, July 6, 2014

Amidst the Fireworks of Hobby Lobby and Undocumented Children

Phew! The reactions to the Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby this past week have been intense. Some are convinced there's a war on women. The desire of family-held corporations to uphold the moral convictions they built their businesses by makes far more sense to others.

Simultaneously heated protests have been taking place in Murietta as hundreds of undocumented children are being bussed into California for processing. For some the idea of young people with no means of support being released on street corners is frightening; the challenges for meeting their needs, daunting. Yet some want to show these kids compassion by giving them a warm welcome.

Christians are voicing their views on both sides of these issues and respectful dialogue seems appropriate as we celebrate freedom in the United States of America. From the foundation of our government, the freedom to voice our beliefs and act upon them  has been something we've considered worth fighting for. America's founding fathers didn't hesitate to express their faith in Almighty God as they explained how important He is to this country's well-being. Benjamin Franklin requested prayers at the Constitutional Convention saying:
The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth--that God governs in the affairs of Men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We've been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."
Jedidiah Morse, the father of American geography (and Samuel Morse), agreed:
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.
So did the first Chief-Justice, John Jay:
The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.
Their words contain sound advice for today and reveal principles necessary for Christians to incorporate if they are going to meet the 7 challenges identified by Transform World. The same thing that united our country from it's earliest days can still unite believers. The authority of Almighty God is far greater than our differences. It's in knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit can bring us together to examine various positions on an issue and work through our differences to find the answers, particularly when it comes to the underlying issues of human trafficking.

If God values life in the womb, and the Bible says He does (see Gen. 49:25, Judges 13:5, Job 31:15, Ps .139:13, Gal. 1:15),  then determining to value every human being from conception to the grave should be the place to start. That's a foundational truth for everything else. It tells girls and boys, no matter how rotten their lives are, they are valuable. That's true for undocumented children as well. These precious kids are so vulnerable--the best place for them is within the protection and care of their own families. We've long adhered to the belief that children removed from their homes for safety purposes should be reunited with their families as soon as possible. That raises many complex questions and concerns, and believers talking rationally and respectfully can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to find the best solutions in a fallen world. Maybe such discussions would help not only those from other countries learn how to deal with problems such as gangs and violence, but us who live here in this country as well.

In Murietta yesterday, two believers on opposite sides of the issues evidently found the necessary common ground to ease their differences and promote dialogue. The Daily Bulletin reported that after 10 minutes of yelling at one another, Debbie (no age given) convinced Ryan Patterson (22 yrs. old) that she wasn't a racist. Then they decided to agree to disagree. "We're both Christians, though, so we agree on something important," said Patterson. Debbie said "she'd made a new friend." Though Patterson wasn't so sure, the best case scenario would be if they would listen to each other and keep talking.

Collaborative teamwork--what a difference it makes. True leadership generates the ability to work through conflicts. Christians should be modeling the way by having the courage to hear and value the insights of others. For far too long, we've followed the poor example of egocentric politicians who shut down conversation and determine to do things their own way regardless of the consequences. That's not how you achieve "buy in." It's when people participate and know someone is paying attention, that someone genuinely appreciates their input. That's also when individuals most see Jesus.

Almighty God gives true freedom, and that's what His children need to demonstrate when it comes to the social justice issues (Galatians 5:1, 13-16-25). No longer locked in our self-bound souls, we've been empowered by the Holy Spirit  with strength enough to be gentle and kind. We can demonstrate self-control no matter how convinced we are that our views are right. Love and goodness involve truth so that must be the goal--to find the truths about how to best love others as ourselves. By doing so we reveal the kind of freedom that makes a nation great. May God bless America.

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