I want to take a moment and introduce Evan on this blog. He is a very close of mine and we’ve been talking for a while about having him start to blog here. Evan lives in Paraguay with his wife. He is currently a two time defending all county beard growing champion… Not really. I don’t there is such a thing… Yet.
Anyway, here’s his post I hope you guys enjoy.
Ah, election season is upon us once again in the good old United States of America, and I have the special opportunity for the second time in my life to be outside the U.S. for all of the campaigning and debates. I am thankful for these opportunities, as it gives me an opportunity to step back and see from afar the things that we get so wrapped up in during the election season. It’s also given me perspective on how other countries are run and the way they operate, either in good ways or bad. But also, the distance has allowed me to step back from the drama and really see things, and that has allowed Jesus to really tug at my heart during this new season of presidential campaigning. Jesus has showed me a few things, and I wanted to share them in regards to how we act, and what is important to us, as Christians, as we head in to this election season.
Being outside the U.S. for a total of three and a half years now, I have a really unique perspective on being an immigrant, granted I am from the U.S., so I will have more opportunities than most other immigrants from around the world. But even so, I have seen a little of their perspective, and been able to relate to them in however a small scale it may be. I am very thankful for the generosity that I have received from the locals, even though I am an outsider. They have treated me with kindness and warmth, even though I don’t know their culture or language.
They have treated me with the kind of hospitality I think any immigrant or foreigner would like to be treated with. In fact, their warmth has felt very similar to how Jesus told us to treat foreigners:
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
“…I was a stranger and you welcomed me”
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the immigrant, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.”
And those most convicting part is that Jesus didn’t give us any modifiers for this. He didn’t say these things, and then say, “unless they came illegally, brought illegal drugs, or take our money from us.” No, he said these things without condition.
One of the most convicting passages that speak to issues that are coming up in debates are the beatitudes found in Matthew 5. There is says, “Blessed are the poor.” Now the interesting thing here is that the Greek verbs for the word “bless” means “to speak well of, to act well towards.” In other words, instead of the often times interpreted meaning of those blessings from heaven, its actually coming from us in an attempt to bring heaven to earth in that situation. And again, Jesus doesn’t give any qualifiers with this command. He doesn’t say, “Unless it means I pay more tax, or they don’t deserve it, or they are lazy.” No, Jesus tells us to do these things in a display of His Kingdom, and in return a way to share Jesus with others.
The other unique perspective I have gained from being outside the states is the overwhelming addiction to violence in the states. One of my first interactions with a Paraguayan, I asked him what he thought of the states and he said, “They are war loving, violence loving people who like to control the world.” Now, they said many good things about it, but this stuck out to me the most. You see, Paraguay has its share of violence like any other country, but they are heavily influenced here by the Mennonites who fled from Germany during the Second World War. The reason they fled is because they are pacifist, meaning they do not believe in violence of any sort, and oppositely, they are pro-life.
The interesting thing here though, is that they aren’t just pro-life in the womb, they are pro-life to the tomb as well, meaning not just protecting the unborn, but also the born. This has been eye opening to me, as well as Jesus showing me his value of life as well. I believe the Mennonites are correct in this view. We shouldn’t be fighting for just the unborn, but also people already born who need protecting. We need to protect the innocent ones who are being killed every day by gun violence. We need to protect the felons who are on death row. Why? Because Jesus teaches that there is no person in life who is without tremendous value, no person who is beyond redemption. There is always the chance of them seeing Jesus, and we need to take that chance.
I’m very thankful for this opportunity to live outside the states and allow Jesus to teach me things through it. It’s convicted me that if we are to call ourselves Christian’s, we need Him to influence every part of our lives, even our politics. I know it’s not fair, but no one ever said the world would be, so why do we expect it. It’s time we line Jesus’ teachings up with how we view the world around us, instead of letting our greed and self-preserving instincts control our world. As Christians, we are to be fighting for the immigrant, fighting for more strict gun laws to preserve life, fight for peace because Jesus calls them blessed, and fight for the preservation of all life, whether unborn or born, because right now it seems an awful lot like the majority of Christians support, “Human life only holds value until you take it out of the package, and then it’s worth nothing.”