My father-in-law almost got his Green Card last week, and it got me to thinking that in a sense we are ALL illegal immigrants.
Immigration is a hot topic this political season, for those who are 3rd and 4th generation Americans, as well as those who may have come here illegally seeking a better life. While there are obvious differences of opinion, with some coming down on the side of humanitarian, while others are concerned about public safety and taxation. Ironically, what is lost in this debate is the Christian heritage that laid the foundation for the country we live in today, that makes it a beacon of hope in a weary world.
Sometimes, I have thought that even for people born in the United States, perhaps citizenship should be some thing that should be earned, instead of bestowed at birth. There are inspiring and exhilarating stories of immigrants who over came great obstacles to become great American citizens and who in turn made America one of the greatest nations on earth.
The Apostle Paul of course grew up in such a society, where Roman citizenship wasnít automatic, some people were born into it, while others bribed officials to become citizens of Rome. It is against this backdrop that the Apostle Paul proclaims that through Christís death and resurrection we have become heirs of Godís kingdom, with all the rights and privileges given to a son or daughter of God.
Itís a curious thing that in Christian music and writings, there is a sense that this world isnít really our home. Thereís a certain restlessness, like some how we are waiting to get our Green Card so we can get into heaven. Perhaps that is what the Apostle Paul was feeling as he wrote to the church at Rome.
"We know that the whole creation has been
groaning as in the pains of childbirth right
up to the present time. Not only so, but we
ourselves, who have the first fruits of the
Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for
our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
Godís grace is extensive, but given the great cost that Jesus paid for our redemption, there will not be any illegal immigrants in heaven. Whether it comes from a sudden health crisis or tragic accident, getting your Green Card is a big deal!! You could almost paraphrase part of Paulís second letter to the Corinthians as saying, ďto be absent from the body is to be awarded your Green Card.Ē