Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Immigration & the Nazis

Where would be without the Nazis? I mean every national dialogue in America these days seems to draw comparisons to Hitler's Germany? Whether its healthcare, militia groups, or reality TV shows, the comment always seems to go, "You know, this is how it was in Germany in 1938." Now, this morning I read that Arizona's new immigration law harkens back to "Nazi Germany". And why? Because it requires a person to produce identification when asked to by police when "reasonable suspicion " occurs.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but instead of comparing such a "radical" approach to Hitler's Germany, couldn't we honestly compare it to any other nation on Earth today. I mean, I live in Hong Kong and I have a Hong Kong Identity card in my wallet which I have to produce at various times to show that I am a resident of the city and have the right to certain services. No one likens the procedure to Hitler's Germany despite the fact that Hong Kong has a similar illegal immigration problem as thousands of mainland Chinese and other Southeast Asians attempt to enter the territory.

All ready though the "sky is falling" crowd has began their insane knee jerk reactions. The city of San Francisco has "banned" business travel of their state employees to Arizona. (Are you kidding me?) Of course, if San Francisco is against it, its a pretty good indication that something is right with the bill. The US Attorney has vowed to overturn it...this despite the view from most legal experts that the bill is based on sound and reasonable law.

Personally, I love immigration...legally. The irony in all of this is that over time, if this bill is as effective as I think it could be, then it will be a very positive thing for the hispanic community that is here legally. For too long a cloud of suspicion has hung over them as they have often been grouped into "illegal" status in people's minds. Immigration (a positive thing) has been confused with illegal immigration (a negative thing). The line is so blurred that if you say you are against illegal immigration, you get lumped in as against immigration entirely. Its like saying if you against highway speeding, you must also be against driving.

If we can get immigration under control in this country, it will be a forward step in the integration of all Americans regardless of their ethnicity.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why I've gotten "LOST"

The best show on television? For me, far and away, it would be the ABC mystery drama, LOST.

Since its premiere in the fall of 2004 it has been a trip down Alice's rabbit hole that seems to get deeper each and every season. Now, in its final episodes, the story is heading toward a climax that I am sure will be emotional mixed with mind bending.

As a Christian, I am also drawn to its on going nods to my faith. In a recent episode, one character is upset at "jacob" and has a crisis of faith, even to the point of seeking out the Man in Black. However the episode ends with his having his faith restored and the final scene is his placing a cross back on after having buried earlier.

Whether its the overtly Christian Mr. Eko, the Jesus like "Jacob" who seemed to lay down his life for the people he's to protect, or even a character named Charlotte Staple Lewis (C.S. Lewis) the Christian influence continues to be a pleasant icing on the cake.

Writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have created one of the most exciting, well developed stories ever broadcast on the small screen. As we begin the final five episodes, I just want to write this post as a big thank you to great storytelling.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bart Campolo and the Cross of Christ

When John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching at a point early in the Gospel of John he declares, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." The sacrificial lamb John was referring to was first required by God as a sacrifice to save his people, the Israelites, as he brought judgement on the nation of Egypt. Exodus 12 says that as death passed through the land taking the first born, he would "passover" the houses of the Israelites whose doorpost had the slain blood of a perfect lamb.

The whole scene was a foreshadow of Jesus, the perfect lamb, being slain and his sacrifice being the requirement for judgement to "passover" us. For years I have heard two views on the crucifixion. Some people believe that the Jesus is the Son of God and His sacrifice on the cross was the perfect love offering reconciling us to a God whom, through our sin, we were estranged and those who didn't believe Jesus was the Son of God; that the whole story was nonsense.

Lately, I've been seeing a new group emerge.

Those that claim Jesus as the Son of God but believe the sacrifice of Christ was not orchestrated by God at all (or if it was, it was ancillary to other, more important, goals). I recently saw a video clip by Bart Campolo (son of famed minister Tony Campolo) where this view point is explained.

What's the Point of Jesus? from Recycle Your Faith on Vimeo.

The disappointment I found in this clip was that some valid elements of the Grace of God that Mr. Campolo brings to the table are diluted by his rejection of the Cross of Christ being the focus of the mission. The intricately crafted plan that God lays out from Man's first sin in the garden is sidelined in favor of basically what Mr. Campolo would do if he were God. Which is simply forgive...without sacrifice.

Paul the Apostle promised that the cross of Christ would be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, and in watching the video I'm still unsure what view Campolo leans toward but it certainly seems like it is a distraction to what he views was the central mission of Jesus which is the messages on love and forgiveness he taught before his crucifixion.

The problem with that is scripture, as a whole, is like a beacon pointing to the cross of Christ. The Old Testament prophets declare its going to happen, the Gospels share how it happens, and the Epistles exclaim, "Wow, look what happened!" Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 2:2that he is "resolved to know nothing...except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Again, its a shame that the wonderful truths of Christ's message on grace and forgiveness that Campolo so lovingly demonstrates is diluted because he creates a false dichotomy by presenting them as an antithesis to judgement and sacrifice. Somehow in this equation love becomes antagonistic to justice. Whereas I believe the cross is so focal to the Christian faith because it is there that love and justice, judgement and grace, and sacrifice and mercy converge in one beautiful act of redemption.

Here's to increased dialogue on Grace and Forgiveness...but rooted in the Cross!