Rod Dreher recently wrote in his blog about the notion of how immigration might actually be a benefit for Christians who are battling in the marketplace of ideas because they would likely find strong allies among immigrants for similar values.
It was a really interesting set of comparative logic. I understood his point because he made it well. However, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Dreher should have continued his thought process through the filter of the Bible and came to a new conclusion altogether.
Mr. Dreher outlines some initial thoughts of his:
I’ve written here that I would a thousand times rather that my next-door neighbors were an observant Muslim family, which by default would mean they shared most of my socially conservative beliefs, than a secular, let-it-all-hang-out American family. It’s all about the kids, really. I could say the same about, say, an observant Catholic or Evangelical immigrant family from Mexico.
But the dynamic changes when we are talking about an entire society. It’s a useful thought experiment to play out in your head, because it forces you to think of what you value socially. I would not want to live in a society that’s majority Muslim, because despite sharing many values, there is not a majority-Muslim country in the world that I would want to live in. Visit? Yes, absolutely. But live in? No, not as an observant Christian, and not as someone who values the Western tradition.
He clarifies his thinking thus:
But if one is a conservative Christian who believes that secular individualism is corrosive of the values one holds dear, shouldn’t one want to import foreigners who are more likely to share one’s values, as a way to shore up the side? It’s easy to see why the answer might be yes, but that overlooks the fact that we are never just one thing.
His astute observation that “we are never just one thing” is both true and not true, based on the perspective of the observer. We are never truly – from a secular stand point – just one thing because Christians are on a journey of sanctification. We still sin in and among the rest of the world. From the perspective of God the Father, however, we are precisely one thing, if we are actually a born-again Christian. I may be revealing my Protestant theology, but God the Father sees God the Son because we are in God the Son through His death, burial, and resurrection if we have placed our faith and trust in that Savior.
Now to my point and why I’m not sure it’s healthy to compartmentalize our lives based on our thoughts on policies, politics, or dogma. This is not a commentary on Benedict Option or similar ideology, but my point is that we are to be what the Greek calls aggelos (angel or messenger) no matter what our passport indicates and no matter who our neighbors are. And if we add a simple Greek prefix (yoo) to aggelos, we learn we are to be bearers of glad tidings (euaggelízō) independent of who surrounds us.
We who are redeemed are of a new citizenry, though we live that out within our secular context. In fact, we are commanded to live that out in such a way that it is evident to all regardless of our context. We are commanded by our Savior to bear and proclaim the news of that same Savior. There is no ambiguity about our being commissioned to preach the gospel.
Finally, my point is this. What anyone who considers themselves a Christian should not miss is the fact that no matter what conditions we find ourselves in we should be in outreach mode. Can we make tents during this secular existence? Absolutely. But, this is to facilitate our life of evangelism, or as Christ put it, while we are going, proclaim the gospel.
I’m not convinced that an opinion on whether I’m more aligned with a Muslim neighbor or a Jewish neighbor or a Hindu neighbor matters. What matters, no matter how they came to be my neighbor, is that I proclaim Christ to them by my words and my life simultaneously. Remember, in the end, there are no Muslims, Hindu, or other groups of people. There are only those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and those who are not.