Archives For the United States

US BorderUnited States citizenship is a hot issue. Many people in the world would love to become US citizens. And many people inside of the US are trying very hard to keep them from becoming US citizens.

Now, like almost every other American, I admit that I did nothing to earn or deserve being born in the United States (and thus becoming a US citizen).[1] I also acknowledge that statistically the odds of me being born in the United States were not in my favor.

I was born in 1983. According to the United Nations 2012 Revision of the World Population Prospects,[2] there were 646,453,000 people born between 1980 and 1985. Of that number only 18,331,000 were born in the United States. So, I basically had a 3% chance of being born in the United States. This was slightly better than my chances of being born somewhere in Central America (a lower 3%), but slightly worse than my chances of being born in Pakistan (4%). I probably should have been born in China (an 18% chance) or India (a 19% chance).

Almost everyone in the world would admit that there are advantages that come with being a U.S. citizen. As a Christian, I think it is only fair to ask myself, “How am I using those advantages for the sake of the gospel?” and “Will I be held responsible if I do not use those advantages properly?”

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. In the parable, a man puts a certain amount of his wealth in the hands of his servants before going on a journey. We are told that he gives to each of his servants according to their ability. When the master returns, he asks for an account of what his servants did with his money. Those servants that were faithful with what they were entrusted with are praised by the master and then given even more responsibility by the master. The servant who was not faithful has his talent taken from him, and he is thrown into the outer darkness.

Harsh as it may seem, this parable reflects the reality that God expects his people to make good use of the abilities, opportunities, and resources he has given them. I believe that my US citizenship is one of the “talents” God has given me. In light of this, I decided to ask myself hard questions to see if I was being faithful with this particular “talent.” Here are some of the questions I asked myself:

1)    Am I using my money and my ability to generate income for the sake of the gospel? In 2011, the median household income in the United States was $50,054. In 2011, 33% of the population of India lived on less than $1.25 a day; in Kenya 43% lived on less than $1.25 a day.[3] Those of us in the United States are filthy rich compared to the rest of the world. Am I giving faithfully to my local church? Am I giving generously to groups seeking to further the kingdom of God? Are there areas in my life were I can cut back on my spending so I can be more generous?

2)    Am I making good use of my time? Because of technological advances my family does not need to spend hours each day carrying water or gathering fuel to heat our home. What am I doing with that free time?

3)    Am I taking advantage of my religious freedom to share Jesus with my neighbors? I live in a country where it is legal to be a Christian. Am I actively engaging with people who don’t know Jesus or am I am content to just hang out with other Christians? Am I taking advantage of the freedom to share my convictions with others?

4)    Am I participating in the political process in a way that makes Jesus look good? I live in a country that allows its citizens to participate in the political process. Am I participating in a way that promotes peace? That works to defend the poor and the oppressed? That confronts greed? That encourages the love of friends and enemies alike?

Of course, there are many such questions that we should be asking ourselves. These are only a few. My hope is that Christians living in the United States will begin to see that their US citizenship is not primarily a “right” but a “talent” that God has entrusted to them for the sake of the gospel advancing.

 


[1] If they were still alive I would definitely thank my great-grand parents for hopping on that boat that brought them here.

Over the last 48 hours, our government has released several warnings about increasing terrorist activity against the United States. Several U.S. embassies have been closed and panic is beginning to swell across America.

But I am not panicked. I am not nervous, scared, or worried that my freedom is under threat. Because I serve another Ruler, One who reigns over America and the Middleterrorism East. I can smile at the terrorist threat and say: Let them come.

Let them come.

Come, come, Oh terrorist. My freedom was purchased by the blood of my Creator and He won’t let you take it. It’s not for resale. Freedom is bought by dying, not by killing. And my freedom to live and die and love is eternal.

Come, come, visit the land of my exile with bombs and rockets. Here’s my flesh: take it! But you cannot have my soul—it belongs to Another.

You can blow me up, but I will never die. If you kill me, I win. My life is not bound to my passport, and my fate is not connected to a flag.

You cannot crucify me. I’ve already been strapped to a wooden beam.

You cannot bury me. I’ve been buried with the One whom earth could not hold.

I cannot die. I’ve already died and been raised with the One who conquered death by dying.

Death, death, where is your sting? Oh terrorist, your weapons are too weak. They do not sting. They only itch. They are a nuisance to my earthly comfort.

Discomfort me, Oh terrorist. Take away my pillow. Blow up my yacht. Crush my car. Mosquitoes are a nuisance. They cause me to itch. They ruin my comfort. But my soul has no blood to suck.

You’re missing the mark. I do not belong to a kingdom of this world. Dig up the gates of hell and throw them at me. Even those don’t stand a chance. You can burn my bios but you can’t singe my zoe.

Come, come, Oh terrorist and inject me with suffering. It too has been redeemed. Transformed from an itch into eternal glory. The more I suffer the stronger I become.

Obi Wan: “You cannot win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful that you could possibly imagine.”

Jesus: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Come, bury me in the ground, Oh terrorist. Plant my grain with your bombs and watch it grow. Fire harder and nurture the fruit.

But your tactics are not wholly lost. There’s a hidden gem in your plan. Your bombs, your fear, your hatred are destroying us. They have wormed their way into our soul and poisoned our freedom. They’ve poised the soil and rotted our fruit. Oh terrorist: You’ve waged a war and you are winning.

Because your hatred and violence has been returned in kind.

My enemy, my enemy, instead of loving you we hate you. Instead of turning the cheek we have loaded a gun. Our bombs are bigger than yours and our anger has snuffed out our love. Your bombs have fallen to the ground and produced rotten fruit:

Vengeance

Hatred

And Violence.

Oh terrorist, your plan has worked. Did you intend it this way? You have lured the Bride of the Lamb into her neighbor’s house and she has found a lover.

John the seer: “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.”