Friday, February 1, 2008

Rebels for God

A few weeks ago, I had a great conversation with MikeT over at Code Monkey Ramblings about Romans 13 and how to apply it to our lives as Americans.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."--Romans 13:1-2

Then I ran across this story this morning:

"Church leaders expressed shock and outrage on Friday at a police raid this week on the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg, during which hundreds of immigrants were arrested.

Eddie Makue, general secretary of the SA Council of Churches, said for many years the Central Methodist Church had welcomed Zimbabweans and others who had been displaced by political conflict and economic turmoil in their own countries.

The police raid was an attack on the "ministry of radical hospitality" that had long been pursued by the Central Methodist Church.

"The leaders heard that roughly 50 police officers forced their way into the church in the middle of the night without a warrant or any prior discussion with the church's minister, Bishop Paul Verryn, or other church officials."

Let me first tell you that I am writing this under the assumption that these were illegal immigrants and not legal refugees. My initial thought was that of shock and outrage as well. Then when I really started thinking about it, I wondered if this church should really be housing and aiding illegal immigrants. Our Country has clear cut laws about immigration. Anyone who comes to our Country in a way that is contradictory to those laws is breaking our laws.

I also know that God would have us take care of the needy and the poor, but I'm wondering how these two ideas meet in the middle. If I house an illegal immigrant, am I rebelling against the authorities, thus bringing judgment on myself? Like wise, if I do not help these needy people, am I ignoring a clear call from God to help those less fortunate than myself?

I know the Apostles ignored the laws when they were spreading the gospel message in the first century, but it seems they had a clear calling from Jesus to do so. Where is the line in this scenario? Perhaps I should feed them, clothe them and turn them in.