Paul on the Sea. A Storm Halts Their Plans. A Shipwreck at Malta. Arrival in Rome.
Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
Acts 28:1-2 (NIV)
The more I read the Bible, the less politically active I think Christians should be.
That is some major shade to throw in the first sentence of an entry, particularly after my uplifting experience with a highly political Christian in Jimmy Carter. So let me cycle this back and explain my point.
The finale of Acts sees a sharp change in the post-Christ landscape. The Jews in Israel do not seem to be taking this little Christianity movement very seriously and threaten to put Paul to death (by crucifixion or perhaps just boredom from a series of never-ending trials). When Paul admits that he is actually a Roman, they decide to leave well enough alone and just ship him back to his homeland and let Caesar deal with it.
And off they go on a ship, and as you probably could guess, it is not long before they run into some serious issues. The weather takes a rough turn, leaving the ship and its hundreds of travelers at risk. An angel promises Paul that not one life will be spared, and soon, they crash land in the city of Malta. Immediately, the indigenous men and women show favor to the soggy survivors, boarding them for days as Paul performs miracle after miracle. Upon his exit, it appears that the Christians have grown in followers, adding in these once secular inhabitants.
This is a theme in Paul’s travels. Some people open their arms to him, and some shun him, driving him out of town. This is a secondary occurrence of a theme previously discussed in the Bible – inhospitality. We all know that the grievous sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality (and maybe some man-on-man action). It seems that God, from His time ruling the Jewish people and now with the added Gentiles, does not take too kindly to those who turn a sour face to foreigners.
Why then are conservative Christians overwhelmingly in favor of deporting illegal immigrants?
Donald Trump’s emergence as the Republican frontrunner has brought this conversation to the forefront of our discourse, showcasing a deep split in ideology on how to deal with illegal immigrants. Deport them all, build a wall, and then start to allow legal immigration. Without getting into any sort of discussion on logistics, I find it utterly shocking that so many Christians support this plan, often under the auspice that Mexico is not “sending us their best.”
But when God so clearly begs us to act kindly to our neighbors, to show them unending (yes, unending) hospitality and resource, then where is this disconnect between belief and behavior coming from?
I wish I had an answer, but really, all I can posit is the question. The more I read the Bible, the less I believe that Christians should be so politically active. Because frankly, the core tenets of Christianity are about hearts and minds, not behavior and action. And if you are to love your neighbor unconditionally, to love God unconditionally, and “not worry about tomorrow,” then where is the political zealousness coming from exactly?
Again, I don’t know.
Yeah, tomorrow is Romans 1 – 2. Strap in folks. Next stop, clobber passage – the final one in the Bible.
As far as I know.