Is Christ Relevant In Immigration Issues?

Jim W. Read Story Here: Michele Bachmann, GOP presidential hopeful: I would ‘not do anything’ for children of illegal immigrants

This is exactly what is wrong with politicians using the “Christian nation” shtick. If your positions are directly in conflict with Christ’s teachings on the poor and needy don’t use Jesus as a campaigning tool in your bid for president. Bachmann, and the rest of them (cough Cain), need to admit they are far more Randian then they are Christian.

Scott ‎”Randian?” Who’s Randy?
Jim W. Ayn “Randy” Rand 😉
Wendy I cannot stand their hypocrisy! Thanks for sharing this article.
Scott I totally agree with your statement that those who call themselves Christians in America are often more Randian (thanks for clarifying the word) than Christian in their attitudes. I haven’t really been following the campaigning stuff too closely, nor am I all that familiar with the candidate, aside from the general idea that she’s that tea party chick. Is Michelle Bachmann using Jesus as a campaigning tool? In the article you’ve linked to above, Jesus/Christianity isn’t mentioned.
Jim W. I guess the article I linked to doesn’t have the references to how Bachmann uses Christianity in her campaigning. Just assumed people knew that she talked about her Christianity a lot on the campaign trail. Since her emergence on the national scene she has always been unabashedly religious right. Of all the politicians in the race Bachmann plays the “Christian Nation” card more than anyone else.Here she is a month ago campaigning at Falwell’s Liberty University weaving Christianity and her campaign together (she also throws in some good ol’ American Manifest Destiny theology as well):
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/MicheleBach

This past weekend she campaigned in 2 churches and gave her Christian conversion story at these stops before handing out bumper stickers, Bachmann 2012 pins, and sign up sheets for campaign volunteers. Her campaign has said her focus leading up to the Iowa caucus is “Faith, family and the economy”.

http://caucuses.desmoinesregister.com/2011/10/26/michele-bachmann-will-focus-on-faith-family-and-economy-in-iowa-this-weekend/

Scott Jim, wow….you did your homework to answer my question. Thanks! Like I said, I haven’t really been following this stuff. (It seems to me very unlikely that I’ll find a mainstream candidate I feel I can endorse.) But to clarify, your position is that a candidate can’t be a Christian AND want to secure the borders, as the two positions are mutually exclusive?
Jim W. I feel the same way regarding finding a candidate that I could actually endorse. We definitely need something different from what either the Dems or Repubs are putting on the table.As for securing borders, I think it is an important issue and one that can be addressed with Christ inspired solutions. It is also a complex and multi-faceted issue. Please understand that I am responding to Bachmann’s statements about the children of undocumented immigrants. The response I will outline here is to the single facet of the demographic majority of these immigrants, that of the economically poor immigrant who hops the border to find better employment and opportunity for their family and themselves.

Unfortunately candidates like Bachmann and a lot of the other candidates espousing a Jesus centered political agenda have not come even close to a Christlike response in my view. The rhetoric they often use paints a narrative that undocumented immigrants are the enemy…that they are criminals and undesirables that we should get rid of. That even when they are injured we should not offer a path for medical aid, even for the children. Such a view simply does not resonate with Jesus’ teachings in my understanding.Part of, and this very incomplete, a Christ like response to this issue would be to review who these people are and why they are coming here, then to respond appropriately, humanely and lovingly. For the most part the undocumented immigrants that come here from Latin America (will use L.A. going forward) are seeking economic and social refuge…especially the ones with children. The reason why people in this position jump the border is because there isn’t a legitimate path to citizenship for the poor and needy. Every time a politician says they are “pro legal immigration because we want the best and the brightest” (this includes Obama) part of the between-the-lines message is that we don’t want the poor and/or uneducated (because they are poor)… our current immigration policy reflects that position. Citizenship from L.A. is, for all intents and purposes, restricted to those who are educated, already have employment lined up and who, upon entry, would be members of at least the middle class. We do not generally accept applicants who are poor. There are certain times when we will declare an official exemption for humanitarian refugees, but this isn’t available for most all of those who come here undocumented. Since there is little opportunity for the poor in L.A. to economically move up the class system they feel like their only option, if they want to improve their lives and give their children more opportunities, is to hop the border. Yes, they are doing something wrong, but it is out of desperation and not out of greed, entitlement, or malice as many nationalists, like Bachmann, assert. From a Christ-inspired point of view I think there is a big difference between how we would respond to “foreign invaders”, as many Republicans have called them, and how we would respond to the desperate attempts of the poor to find a better life.

IMO a Christian response would be to create a process that would offer hope, opportunity, humanitarian aid and a legal pathway to citizenship for these economic refugees. Obviously we can’t just open the flood gates and I am not suggesting that we do. We need an immigration policy and process that has a path for these people. One idea would be to create a program through which they could participate in a public works program (kind of like the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and 40s) that would both give society benefit (infrastructure maintenance and creation is a large need right now) and the immigrants valuable on the job training/a path to earned citizenship. Another possibility would be to partner with the agricultural industry, who right now is suffering losses as a result of recent immigration laws, to co-sponsor a work for citizenship program. As we open up the opportunity for these economically poor immigrants to have a legitimate path to citizenship the jobs of our border control will become much more efficient and effective. As a matter of demand, most human trafficking would become virtually obsolete once we have a reasonable pathway to citizenship for the poor. At this point most of the undocumented traffic over the border would be related to drugs and/or other serious criminal threats. Border agents would then be able to focus on the truly dangerous and violent offenders instead of chasing families through the desert.

In essence, my point is that if we are going to claim Christ in our public and political lives then we shouldn’t simultaneously turn a blind eye to our struggling neighbors to the south, nor should we be hostile to their desperate attempts to find hope in a world where such a thing is hard to come by. For me, the story of undocumented immigration parallels the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I think for too long we have taken on the role of the priest and Levite…my call is that we, if we are to respond to this issue in a Christ-inspired manner, take our proper role as the Samaritan.

Kate RE immigration — Jim, every other civilised country in the world has just as strict, if not stricter policies regarding who is permitted to come. Look up Canada or Australia, for example: you need to have savings, a job, be in good health, etc. This, in my opinion, is not unreasonable and has nothing to do with a “Christlike” or “unChristlike” attitude. It has to do with the fact that immigration is, and should be, based on the nation’s self-interest, not the desires of outside individuals. As Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

I’m all for supporting the poor and helping them better themselves, but not at the expense of prioritizing foreign poor over our own citizens. Looking the other way and pushing for lax immigration, in my view, only allows corrupt regimes to continue abusing their people. We need to be putting some pressure on these governments to change, and empowering people in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, El Salvador, etc., to be active citizens in their native lands.And yes, Bachmann bashes her Bible a lot more than she reads it, I think…!

By the way, calling someone an “undocumented worker” instead of “illegal immigrant” doesn’t change the reality of the situation. If I choose to drive my car without bothering to get a license, by all means, you can call me an “unlicensed driver” instead of a “criminal” but I’m still breaking the law.

Jim W. Thanks for the response Kate. My intent was not to compare us with any other country but rather to answer the question that was asked regarding the intersection of Christianity and illegal immigration. While it’s possible to say Christ and his teachings shouldn’t have anything to do with immigration, that is a presupposition that, as of now, you haven’t backed up. Writing it doesn’t necessarily make it “fact”. It seems to be a chosen world view which probably has strong points and weak points. My goal here was to show how a Christ inspired world view might address the issue. It’s up to the individual to judge whether a nationalist world view would be more apt at addressing the issue. We should not be mistaken though, these world views are not necessarily trying to achieve the same goals. The nationalist world view is, as you said, self-interested. The Christ-inspired world view would be seeking hope and solutions for people no matter which side of a line in the sand they happen to find themselves on.

What I proposed was a Christ inspired solution to the problem, within what I would consider a Christian world view. I would agree that your suggestions of influencing and empowering foreign nations/peoples would be good and would contend they are good components of a solution. However, historically we have been doing that for decades and it has not come even close to solving the problem. It has proven itself to be quite unsuccessful as a stand alone approach.

Please take note that the couple of suggestions I made were mutually beneficial for us and them. We have needs and so do they, I proposed solutions that meet both. They would be doing something for our country and we would be doing something for them.

Inevitably this conversation tends to move into an argument about “us vs. them”. The beauty of Christ’s teachings about how we treat the “other” is that he talked about them in ways that included them in our community. In the Christian perspective there is just an “us”…as humanity yearning to be reconciled to each other and to G-d. Political boundaries were of little concern. Calling those we would conveniently distance ourselves from a “neighbor” invokes images of shared community. Nationalist sentiments seek to create a sense of exclusive community (the us vs. them mentality), in my understanding of Jesus’ teachings he tries to create as sense of inclusive community that offers hope and acceptance regardless of social, economic, or political status. Jesus’ choice of using the Samaritan in the referenced parable was far from random, as I’m sure you know. I couldn’t think of a more apt equivalent for a modern-day undocumented immigrant in our nation. The Samaritans in his time were the outsiders who lived among them. They were those in his culture not accepted nor wanted by the “insiders” of the Jewish social structure. He seemed to be almost mocking the “us/them” mentality of his culture by placing the “other” as the hero of the story.

I hold a hope that we can build a society that doesn’t need to exclude the poor and the inconvenient in order to thrive. We need not neglect those presently here to welcome those who are coming. There is not any fixed law of the universe that says that we can’t. Building such a world is difficult but not by any means impossible.

As far as the language I use when speaking about undocumented immigrants, I do this because I don’t wish to brand anybody with a scarlet “I”. They are real people to me, each with individual stories and circumstances. I don’t feel as if I am in a place where I can judge or condemn them as wrong-doers. What is “legal” and what is moral/acceptable are not always in agreement. As I explained earlier, the situations that surround many of these people are quite extraordinary. Few risk death by traversing hundreds of miles of desert who aren’t desperate and running out of hope. Indeed hundreds die every year in the process. For your analogy to be fit you would need to be driving as a last-ditch effort for a better life for you/your family or to escape extreme hardship. If that were the case, I wouldn’t label you a “criminal” either.

Kate RE terminology, ok, I see your point. That phrasing tends to annoy me though because it always seems to come from people who are trying to be politically correct/act like we don’t have a genuine border security issue.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with people who are fleeing outright persecution, particularly if we have an existing understanding in regard to violence in their countries (Cuba). I fully support legal immigrants, regardless of where they come from. And I think we have provisions in the system that allow some flexibility for certain situations. But that doesn’t mean we should throw all our rules out the window. At the same time, it angers me to see how companies exploit many of the people who come here, legally or not.

On the Christian principle of the thing, I guess we have some differences in overall view on this! While Jesus emphasized including outcasts and supporting the poor, he also focused on spiritual improvement, as opposed to being consumed by “getting more stuff” here on earth. (Matt. 8:20). He also spoke about respect for the laws of man as well as the laws of God. (Matt. 17:27, Matt. 22:21)

So when I see people who are fixated solely on obtaining wealth, willing to abandon country and their fellow citizens and even break the law for it, I have a hard time seeing support for that behavior as a “christlike” stance. That goes for the fat cats on Wall Street just as much as the illegals, in my book.

Jim W. Do you really think that a significant number of undocumented immigrants are driven by greed?
Kate Re analogy, I see your point, but do disagree. Morally, we can debate whether there’s a difference, but the law typically does not recognize noble motives as an excuse for criminal behavior. A man fleeing a drug gang with his family and a drug lord hopping the border illegally are essentially one and the same in the eyes of the law.Honestly, having been in Mexico and seen conditions firsthand, yes, I think for many, greed, and even worse, laziness is a factor. If it were not, you’d see a lot more people willing to go through the proper channels, learn English, and take jobs that are not under the table.

Think about it: Why bother trying to get your education, be a hardworking citizen, challenge your government to change, protest injustice and make a difference in your own country when you can just sneak across a border to pursue an easy life?I don’t blame anyone for wanting a better life, Jim. I want a better life too. It’s human nature. But I don’t think it’s right for me to expect others to just give it to me, or for me to pursue it outside the confines of the law. I’m not going to hop the fence of a gated community and occupy someone’s property just because the people who live there are better off than I am, and I don’t think Jesus would be on my side if I did.

Jim W. I live in a city with a lot of undocumented immigrants. One thing you can’t really say about the demographic as a whole is that they are lazy…some of the hardest working people we have. The fact of the matter is that most of the impoverished don’t have access to education where they can learn English. Most don’t have the opportunity to find good jobs or transportation to Mexico City to protest the injustices. Here the current immigration laws make it impossible to get jobs that aren’t under the table.

Most of Mexico is quite unlike the places where Americans go on vacation. Just across the border from AZ in Nogalas there is a garbage dump. There is a make shift community of scrap-metal lean-tos that are densely populated. Every day when the trash is dumped the place is flooded with children searching through it for scraps of food to eat. That’s the reality that a lot of them face. I don’t think it’s an accurate assessment to say these people are too lazy to protest and wait for their society to change. In addition, again, it’s not easy to hop the border. It’s extremely dangerous and many die in the process. These actions are born out of desperation, not out of jealousy or greed.

It’s easy for us to judge the choices of the down-trodden or hopeless as immoral when we have the assurance, simply by the random chance of time and place of birth, that we will never have to take a step in their shoes. We cannot understand their hardship. Those from a place of privilege are consistently given instructions from Jesus to care for the poor. Jesus makes his expectation clear time and time again. It is not our place to judge them but rather to give generously from our abundance. There is not a single time recorded in scripture where Jesus condemns a poor person, judges them, excludes them, calls them lazy or wicked. He reserves those for those who don’t help the poor and down trodden.

In response to the assertion that we should always submit to the law of the land, this is not a global decree. Jesus, and the rest of scripture, make allowances for breaking the laws of the land. Consider for a moment the account of Matthew 12.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Having a law does not decide whether an action is permissible or not. It does not dictate morality nor which “side” Jesus is on. Jesus teaches here that legitimate need overrides the law. I fear that when we judge the poor and down-trodden from our place of contentment and privilege that we have “condemned the innocent”.

The difference between the undocumented immigrant and us occupying somebody’s house is the necessity. We have the ability to provide for yourself. We are not impoverished. We were fortunate enough to be born into a situation where we don’t have to dig through a garbage dump to find our daily meal.

Scott Wow, Jim, look what my question stirred up! My intention was not to spark a debate, but simply to understand your position. You’ve stated it quite eloquently. Mark your calendar, because on this day in 2011, you and I agree on a political point!
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G.I. Jesus vs Hippie Jesus

Jim W. Obama is not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist who gives away free healthcare. You're thinking of Jesus
Christy I don’t see any evidence that Jesus was anti-war. Yes, He did say turn the other cheek, but He also turned the tables at the temple. God even called His people to war and is described as the Mighty Warrior.
Kate
Yes, he did, but Jesus discouraged his disciples from fighting — he stopped Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, for example. He also repeatedly reminded his followers that thought they expected him to take on the Roman empire, his kingdom was not to be an earthly one. And of course, in the Beatitudes, he says the meek shall inherit the earth.
Jim W.
I think you’d be hard pressed to see Jesus’ teachings as supporting anything other than non-violence. It is quite difficult for me to see God as desiring his children to slaughter each other in war. It doesn’t strike me as quite right to minimize some of his most important teachings in the sermon on the mount. Not only does he say turn the other cheek, as if that teaching in and of itself doesn’t demonstrate his stance, he also says to *love* your enemies. It is, dare I say, absolutely impossible to love somebody whilst in the act of killing them on a battle field. Also keep in mind that when Jesus described the “children of God” he said they were to be peacemakers. Again…it is, by definition, impossible to be a peacemaker while simultaneously waging war. They are fundamentally opposed to one another. I also think it is important to point out that Jesus didn’t just say “turn the other cheek”…he literally peacefully submitted himself to torture and death, even healing and forgiving his enemies during those events.
There are tons of verses in the gospels that people can go back and forth with arguing whether Jesus is pro-war or anti-war. Just pulling a verse doesn’t necessarily prove the point one way or another, so i think its more important to really look into Jesus historically, who he was, what he did, how he addressed issues, and what was the ultimate result. In my view Jesus was the Messiah, foretold as the deliverer of the Jewish people and all mankind. Many of the Jews in Jesus’ time did not accept him as Messiah…which leads us to the obvious question of why. The answer is because they expected their Messiah to lead them into a military victory over their Roman occupiers and oppressors. Once the messiah had accomplished this, they expected him to setup the physical and political kingdom of Israel. They didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah…because he rejected their worldly expectations and demonstrated a better way. Jesus even took their violent and manipulative systems and turned them on their heads. When they wanted a political kingdom of limited borders…he taught them of a spiritual kingdom that could not be contained by the boundaries of nations. If Jesus had chosen the political nation his message would have been limited and resembled little more than the violent hunger for power and wealth that men have foolishly killed each other over for millenium. Jesus chose a higher way. Jesus instead offered himself in weakness and humility. He was not passive, but faced oppressors and murderers with intentional passion.
Many mistakenly think that non-violence is synonymous with passive non-action. This is not the case. When Jesus turned the tables at the Temple it was an act of protest, not of violence. This would be akin to many of the civil rights marches in the 1960s…speaking of which MLK learned his form of non-violent protest from Jesus’ teachings.
For the first 3 centuries of Christianity Jesus’ followers were consistently non-violent…but also quite rebellious. They faced all kinds of oppression and they actually followed Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount and took seriously the call of taking up their own cross. The cross, for them, was not just a symbol of their religion…it was a calling to stand against oppressors with the same kind of self sacrifice and non-violent resistance that Jesus demonstrated. Constantine changed all that when he was “converted”. Constantine is the father of “christian” war…not Jesus. War is a human thing…assigning God’s will to it seems quite dangerous and irresponsible.
Jessica
Jim, that was beautifully said.
Jim W.
Thanks Jess
Christy
Jim, I understand what you are saying, but what Jesus was talking about was a heart attitude. Jesus – who said He and the Father were one – came to the Earth to die. Jesus could have started a military action, but then could not be the sacrifice for the covering of our sins. Jesus wanted us to have love in our hearts and not anger or bitterness, but you do see many accounts in the Old Testament where God did in fact call his children to war – ie: The Phillistines, Jerico, to take the land of Canaan. There are so many examples. I am not for hurting people, but I also do not see evidence that God/Jesus would not condone a war in certain cases.
I do agree that protest is better than a war and we need to do everything we can to get along with others. I have never disputed that. But sometimes a violent action becomes necessary. Not as an individual, but as a nation to protect itself. We would not have the freedom of worship that we have in the US without a war.
Check out Revelation 19. Who is waging war on a whitehorse.
A few more verses to ponder – 1 Samual 15; Exedus 17; Numbers13; Numbers 31; Deuteronomy 2 , 3, 7, and 20; Joshua 1, 5, and 8; Judges 1 and 7; 1 Samual 17; II Samual 5. I could keep going. I do not base my view on 1 or a few verses. I take the complete Bible into account. Jesus is the perfect balance of Righteousness (which by itself would leave us all guilty and punished) and mercy (his blood covers our sins to make us clothed in His righteousness). To view God/Jesus as a distortion on either side would be irresponsible.
Jim W.
I appreciate the verse references and thoughts Christy. Thanks for sharing your views.
At some point in our faith all Christians need to find a way to resolve the conflicts between Jesus’ teachings regarding non-violence and peace as reported in the Gospels and OT warfare in the name of God or violent language used in Revelation. Our presuppositions tend to determine where we end up. For example, if you make the presupposition that the Bible is fully inerrant and God is literally the author of every word then your approach will be fundamentally different from somebody who starts their exploration of the teachings of Jesus and the Bible with the scholarly historical approach including textual criticism of the ancient documents written over hundreds of years by a diverse authorship. There are other ways to approach it, but I’ll focus on these two for the time being. The former seems to be where you are coming from (correct me if I’m wrong), while I would probably be closer to the latter.
If we choose the former then the words of the historical Jesus are no more representative of Jesus’ teachings than something written in Numbers or Leviticus. So when Numbers 31 says “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites.” (we won’t even go into the stuff about killing children & non-virgin women, while taking the virgins as the spoils of war) and the historical Jesus says “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” we have a problem that must be resolved. The presupposition won’t allow for the two statements to remain in conflict…so we try to reason our way around it. One of the ways that we could resolve it is to claim that one of the verses was speaking metaphorically. We could say that Numbers was showing us that physical vengeance is a godly way to resolve conflicts with people of alternate religions or nationalities while the historical Jesus was speaking metaphorically. If he was speaking metaphorically then when we turn the other cheek it is only in our heart that we do so while our physical response should or could be to strike back. I’m not sure how that actually works…but that doesn’t necessarily negate its possibility. Another attempt at resolving the conflict could be, as you have done, to assert that national or organized revenge can be godly while individually it is forbidden. Again, I’m not sure how that works since nations and organizations consist of individuals who must take part in that organized revenge effort…perhaps I am missing something but just getting others to join in the revenge effort doesn’t seem to get away from the historical Jesus’ teachings for me.
From the other perspective every book in the bible was written by a human author or authors who wrote them in a specific time, place, and cultural context. They were written by people who earnestly sought G-d and to know his will. Books like Numbers were written by Israelites hundreds of years before the historical Jesus. Much of the OT has helpful and good teachings, some of it is pretty brutal and even immoral at times. If we acknowledge the historical reality of fallible human authorship then we can admit this. History has no shortage of men claiming that G-d called them to war and violence. It would actually be surprising if the ancient Jewish religion did not include references to conquering in the name of a diety…after all everybody else in the ancient world was doing the same thing. From a historical perspective they wrote just what we would expect them to write. What we know of the time is that tribal land disputes were quite common. Life was short and brutish. Governments were often quite unstable and offered little peace or security to their citizens….but the rulers still needed some way to motivate their subjects to offer their lives in service to them. One of the most common methods used at the time was to invoke the will of the national diety. There are a lot of places in the OT where the message is “our god is better than your god and we will prove it through a violent demonstration of military force”…for me, this doesn’t prove that G-d actually calls us or anybody else to do this, just that people believed that he did. It seems quite natural when considering that people are fallible and prone to violence. Which makes Jesus’ teaching all the more poignant and revolutionary. Jesus knew full well that people consistently used G-d to justify their violence toward one another…so he made it abundantly clear his followers were to rise above that. For my Christianity the historical Jesus is the lens through which I must view the rest of scripture and history. It just seems unnecessary and troublesome to attempt to change what Jesus taught because some guy who wasn’t Jesus contradicted him centuries earlier. If Jesus conflicts with other parts of scriptures there is a possibility and even a likelihood that he meant to. I mean in the sermon on the mount he used a rhetorical pattern of quoting the OT and then changing, modifying and/or contradicting what it said. I simply couldn’t imagine him being more clear. As for Revelation, the dragons and six-winged animals covered in eyes should be our first indicator that it isn’t meant to be taken literally. In addition, Revelation has always held a loose and controversial place in the canon. Martin Luther, the father of protestantism, is even quoted as saying that he could “in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.” Given Revelation’s shaky history through almost all of the church’s history I certainly don’t think a literal interpretation of Jesus coming on a war horse and slaughtering so many people that blood rises to that stallion’s bridle should be preferred over the historical Jesus’ actual teachings.
In general with my approach there is little compulsion to force two verses that genuinely contradict each other to agree. They simply are what they are. When there is a conflict I choose to prefer Jesus. When an account, assertion, or teaching needs interpretation or explanation, it should always be informed by the teachings and actions of Jesus. Some Christians tend to give preference to the Torah, others to the Prophets, many evangelicals give that preference to Paul, and some to John of Patmos. I would contend that it belongs firmly to Jesus, all other teachings are secondary and should be treated as such.


Below is a short Zombie thread that occurred on G+ today

Tom “I do not bring peace, but a sword” comes to mind right away. And Luke 19:25-27, “And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'” Jesus is speaking in parable yes, but he is portrayed at created the parable and he is speaking of the words favorably! I don’t think one can say Jesus was ‘anti-War’ or ‘anti-violence.’
Jim W. Speaking in parables and symbolism is not the same as advocating or condoning violence. Consider this quote from MLK, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
When Jesus speaks of the sword, the message he is bringing makes reference back to Micah, a prophet whose message was one of social justice…very similar to the message of MLK actually. He is declaring hope for an oppressed people. Jesus is starting a movement of social change and warning that it will come at a price. Those who choose to participate in the coming Kingdom must bring everything they hold dear and be willing to sacrifice it all. As he nears the end of this speech he declares “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Jesus knew what the cross meant…it was his chosen weapon against the oppressors. It meant complete sacrifice in a non-violent but audacious and very public rebellion. Jesus did not fight a physical, violent battle against them. He neither killed, nor harmed anybody. He exposed their darkness by offering himself on a cross…their deeds were shown as evil for the world to see when he refused to strike back. For those oppressing there could have been no doubt that their actions were unjust…if he would have fought back they would have been able to claim they were putting down a rebellion to protect civilization. Shame was shoveled on their heads as Jesus submitted to their torture, even more when he healed one of the guards arresting him.
Jesus’ approach to non-violence, in my opinion, is not just exhibited by a single phrase uttered here or there. Rather, his entire life demonstrates that message. He gave everything for it.

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