Monthly Archives: August 2013

Education=A Future For Kenya’s Kids!

The Meekers welcome more than 900 guests to the grand opening of Point of Grace’s new eight classroom facility.

The grand opening for Point of Grace Lutheran Academy was a great celebration of God’s answer to prayer!  The Lord promises to take care of those whom most of society forgets, especially the poor, widows and orphans.  Today, we rejoice in His care shown to many of them through our brand new school building!

“For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory;

he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord!” (Psalm 102:16-18, ESV).

From left to right, Bishop Amayo, Pastor Dennis Meeker and Member of Parliament John Alago Aluach.

How did this school come into being?  It started when God brought an Iowa farm boy turned pastor, and pastor’s daughter from Kenya together in Holy Matrimony.  Their care for Kenya’s Kids created a school and orphanage program.  Now their work has been blessed by caring Christians from California to Canada, Georgia to Michigan and board of volunteers from Seymour, Indiana.

Through gifts of love and dedication that these saints have provided 4Kenya’sKids, we now have a brand new eight-room school building.  The year began with about 200 students and enrollment has grown to over 290.  What a great blessing!  We can see the Lord’s work in all of this as He cares for many who otherwise would have no hope.

Children at Point of Grace School

One of Our Classes in Front of the New School Building

These earthly blessings enjoyed by Kenya’s kids at Point of Grace are but a shadow of the eternal riches God pours upon all His people through His Son Jesus Christ.  With the promise of happily ever after in heaven, we get to offer every moment of our life to Him in praise and thanksgiving.  What a joy it is, to watch God prosper the work of our hands as we labor for those whom He loves and redeems!

It Always Seems That There Must Be An Easier Way

While I was in Mexico, I met many men who were suffering because they or their parents had tried to enter the United States the “easy” way.  Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s the border wasn’t nearly as fortified and it was relatively safe for entire families to cross back and forth.  Most felt no need to register as immigrants or apply for legal immigrant status because the laws were lax and there were many farmers and factories welcoming them into America regardless.

In the decades since Reagan was president, laws have been strengthened and enforcement stepped-up.  This has happened in part because of a change in attitude towards immigrants, in response to 9-11 and lawlessness in the borderlands.  During this time, many immigrants let their green cards lapse or never bothered to get a work permit.  They simply lived their lives, worked, had families and built a nice life for themselves in the US.

That was fine before, but is no longer a workable option for most.  Because of the resources Homeland Security has been given in the wake of 9-11 and renewed cooperation between the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and local law enforcement agencies, something as simple as a routine traffic stop now often results in repatriation or deportation.  A political stalemate on immigration reform hasn’t helped matters improve.Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Many immigrants who were born or raised on the US side of the border they feel as if the border has crossed them, not that they have crossed the border.  They came with no questions asked.  But they are now being removed, no questions asked.

Some may be tempted to fault the government or those tasked with enforcement of existing laws for what many perceive to be injustice.  I’m not certain that gross injustice is intentionally being perpetrated here.  What I am sure of is that in the existing system, much of the onus lies on the part of undocumented residents (illegal immigrants as most call them) to make their own residency legal.

This is a difficult and expensive process that doesn’t have a guaranteed happy ending, which is why most are reluctant or fearful to even apply for legal resident status.  But it is a necessary legal step for the person who wants to stay in the US by doing things the right way as opposed to the “easy” way.  Unfortunately, instead of upholding the law and applying for legal immigrant status before attempting a return to the US, many who are repatriated to Mexico pay thousands of dollars to guides or risk their lives crossing the desert border alone.

Most of these crossing routes, according to a Border Patrol Agent I spoke with, are controlled by drug traffickers who aren’t big fans of immigrants drawing attention to their paths.  You can imagine why they don’t want others to use their routes.  Nor should you be surprised that many employ measures to protect their corridors.

Considering the danger many repatriated people are risking to reenter America illegally, there are many worldly reasons to encourage those who are undocumented residents of the US to legitimize their residency including:

  • Freedom from constant and debilitating fear of capture and repatriation.
  • To ensure family can stay together, wherever that may be.
  • The law has given provision for undocumented residents to be granted residency.
  • Better access to human and social services.
  • Better prospects for employment.
  • Better protection under the laws of the land in which they live.

As Christians, we can also encourage undocumented Christian residents with words of scripture regarding their predicament:

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12 ESV (Not very cheery, but encouragement to do all we can in our power to make things within our control right the right way as opposed to any way.)

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord his God,

who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them,

who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,

who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the sojourners;

he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” Psalm 146:5-9, ESV  (A great Psalm that reminds us all that God is in control and that He is ever mindful of our situation, lovingly caring for us at all times and in all places as only He can.)

As we noted in multiple blog entries last week, immigration is a sticky web of issues that are so interconnected that no one of us has all of the answers.  But Christians do have faith that sees God at work even in immigration issues.  This faith gives us good reason to seek the Lord’s will in these matters, trusting that He has ultimately made right all that is wrong with the world in His Son Jesus Christ.

In faith, those who don’t have the rights of citizens can do their part in securing their freedom within the existing justice system, trusting that God works through earthly authorities to do His Will.  Those of us who are blessed with freedom can work to bring positive change to a system that isn’t perfect.  All the while, we all look forward to the day when we will enjoy true freedom where peace and justice abound in the presence of the King of Kings.

The Worst Kind of Poverty

As I anticipate heading back to the states, I find myself redefining what poverty means to me.  We have met some of what many would call the “poorest of the poor” these last few days.  Many of these people live in conditions that would be unacceptable to us and have little chance of any significant improvement in their standard of living.

At the Casa Del Migrante, I became acquainted with many men who have no home, no job, have lost their family and have dismal prospects for their future.  They have been completely uprooted from home, family and job.  If they are unable to find a place to live, get settled and get established somewhere new, they will be stuck where they are.

For some, the longing for family will drive them to despair.  For others, yearning for those whom they love will propel them towards a better economic future.  Their hope is to make enough money to be able to go home.  They will find a way to get back to their family and their life.  They will do whatever it takes to be with people they love, be a productive member of society and experience a new passion for life that is forged in the trials of today.

These men are not poor.  They are very rich in love, integrity and, as I have discovered, faith.  They have discovered what is truly important and have decided they will do everything in their power to be faithful to their family and to God regardless of the consequences.

For the first two nights I had dinner at the Casa, the migrants were not told that we were a group of pastors.  When they looked across the table at me, all they saw was a white guy who was there with them and kind to them, even if he didn’t speak a lick of Spanish.  Thankfully, most knew enough English for us to communicate, but even when language was a barrier, we were able to understand each other enough to make a connection.

Sitting at dinner with many of the deportees, I was the one who got to listen to a sermon.  They taught me about life and what’s most important.  Three different men, after telling their story, pointed to heaven and gave God the credit for who they were.  Even though they were down on luck, their faith far outweighed what they didn’t have in earthly terms.

This reminded me of what the psalmist wrote:

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:15-17, ESV)

The people I have spent time with have been broken.  They have been taken to the bottom and found God there.  He was always there for them, but they have discovered a deeper love and stronger faith than many will come to know in this life because of what they’ve been through.

It would be too easy for us to look down on them because of what they don’t have in terms of money or position or legal residency status.  But that belies a proud heart and a haughty spirit which God despises.  Instead of looking down on them we should look at them as dearly loved children of God, most of whom are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God has taught me a lesson about true riches through their stories.  He has reminded me that His Son gave up His throne in glory to become the least of these.  Jesus was homeless, illegal, despised and rejected by the rulers and most of the people of His day.  He bore the scorn of a people nobody wanted so that He could taste their pain.  He descended to earth to pick them up by redeeming them with His precious blood.  Because of what Jesus has done for them, they have more value than you or I could ever fully comprehend.

God has also reminded me of His love for me by forgiving me for attitudes towards immigrants that don’t always reflect the love He has for them.  He hasn’t given up on me when I have given up on others without even realizing it.  He has given me this week to grow in my relationship with Him by getting to know His heart for the poor in this context.

It is humbling to know that I am powerless to lift these people out of poverty.  It is refreshing to know that I don’t have to.  God has already given these people riches that many will never know.

The worst kind of poverty is not material, it is spiritual.  It is a poverty that doesn’t know the love of God through the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.  Those who are most impoverished don’t care about the plight of others because they don’t know truly unconditional love themselves.

We cannot give that which we have not already received ourselves.  If you find your heart going out to those less fortunate than yourself and seek to love them because God first loved you, count yourself among the richest of these.  If you have the capacity to love, you have already been granted riches in Christ beyond imagination!

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12, ESV)

 

Citizens of Nowhere

You shall not oppress an immigrant. You know the heart of an immigrant, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

These words to God’s people Israel, spoken from Mount Sinai at the very same time Moses received the Ten Commandments from the Lord, have fallen on the deaf ears of many of God’s people in America today.  We act as if we have done something to deserve the status that we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.  When in fact, the vastest majority of us never did anything to deserve our legal standing as citizens.  We were just born here.

We are taught to look down on those who are different than us, especially “illegal” immigrants.  We have begun looking at them as “those people,” as if we are somehow different from them in a way that makes us superior to them.  This is not true in the eyes of God or in reality.  Yet another misconception that has been blown out of my mind in my time in Tijuana is that my story really isn’t any different from the story of many men in the mission because they were born here too.

When I say they were born here, I mean in the United States.  Yes, that’s right, many of the people the INS are deporting were born in the United States of America.

One such man is named Matt.  He was born in Southern California to “illegal” immigrants who were too scared of the authorities to have him in the hospital.  So instead, his mother delivered him at home.  This means that there is no paper work to document his American birth or his eligibility for US citizenship.

Matt grew up, went to school, married a woman and had three children.  He earned a decent living in construction, even making ends meet through the housing collapse.  Even though he was born here, worked hard, and has never been in trouble with the law, he was deported.

IMG_20130815_095911_383

About 1,200 immigrants receive a free meal at this soup kitchen every day. Many of the men who stay at the mission walk three hours each way for lunch.

He was deported because he was driving his motorcycle with a burned out light, got pulled over and had no driver’s license.  The police arrested him on the spot and in less than a week he was deported to Mexico.  But the catch is, Matt isn’t a citizen of Mexico either.  He is literally a citizen of nowhere.

As a citizen of nowhere he has no rights in the US or Mexico or anywhere else.  He’s stuck.  He’s the victim of a system that thirty years ago welcomed migrants.  Now we can’t get rid of them quickly enough.  What did Matt do to deserve this?

You shall not oppress an immigrant. You know the heart of an immigrant, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

God told His people Israel not to oppress immigrants before they even entered the Promised Land because he knew that as soon as they got settled and took ownership of the Promised Land that their hearts would change.  He knew that as long as they were the immigrant, they would demand respect and justice for immigrants.  But once settled, immigrants could be considered a threat.  They would be taken advantage of because they had no rights unless He granted them.  And so, God granted immigrants the same rights as citizens in Israel.

Now, I don’t think that in our context that it would be wise to grant everybody who wants into our country or everybody who wants to stay in our country blanket amnesty.  We have to be responsible about who is allowed to enter our country and who can stay.  Instead of kicking everybody out or allowing everybody in, we should find a reasonable compromise that allows responsible people in or to stay, while those who are grossly irresponsible are returned to their native land or otherwise dealt with.

Care for the most vulnerable in society, including immigrants gets right to the heart of the Lord.  In the law, we see something deeper than a list of rights and wrongs as God’s people.  We see who we were created to be in light of the perfect love we have first received from God.

Granted, no one besides Jesus will ever be able to keep the law perfectly, but the law nonetheless tells us who we are as God’s people.  It tells us what is in line and out of line for us.  That line is not set by politicians or borders or preconceived notions.  It is a line that has been drawn hard and fast by God.

According to God, everyone for whom Christ died deserves equal treatment under the law.  This means that spiritually and politically speaking all are created equal and deserve equal treatment.  We as the people of God, who enjoy true spiritual freedom in Christ through the forgiveness of sins, should be seeking equity for all under the laws of this land as an expression of the freedom we have in Christ.

We are not ever told what those laws need to be or how they are to be brought into existence.  We have the freedom to work that out amongst ourselves. But we are called to ensure the fair treatment of all people.

The struggle and yearning for freedom is great preparation for the next life.  Those who don’t enjoy equality long for the day they will have she same rights as everybody else forever.  We who have freedom and use our freedom to secure the freedom for others grow in the likeness of Christ.

We citizens of heaven can be a blessing to citizens of nowhere by speaking up for their rights.  When we do, we offer hope to others that gives them a tiny glimpse of the hope we have in Christ.  When we live as the blessed and as a blessing, everybody enjoys a greater measure of the freedom God has created us to have.  Living under the cross, we are prepared to live in glory.

Does Deportation = Justice?

 

As you read this piece, you need to know that my goal today is not to make some political statement or to try to persuade you to think this way or that about immigration.  The immigration issue is a hot political topic and so divisive that it often proves difficult to have a rational conversation about it.  I’ve learned that I don’t have the answer to this complex reality facing millions of Americans who live in as undocumented residents of the United States.  I’ve also learned that what I thought I knew about immigrants is wrong and so I hope to tell you a couple of stories so that you can learn some of the reality I have been confronted with in Tijuana. 

I’ve spent lots of time these past few days with many men who have been deported in the last week or so for various reasons.  Most of their stories are pretty much the same.  There are many reasons why they are being deported.  Today we are going to look at a few.

Yes, there are some who have committed violent crimes. Almost all the men I’ve talked with, who have had a rough past of gang banging and drug dealing, did these deeds a long time ago.  Every one of them has served their sentence and been released.  Most have a family and have been working hard to make an honest living.  To a man, each one I met who has a difficult past, did not complain about the injustice of their deportation, but rather said their past has caught up with them.  But those who have committed violent crimes are a small minority.

These statistics come from over 3,000 interviews with deportees in 2010.

The vast majority of the undocumented residents who are here are family men who came to the states decades ago when the rules were different.  The US wanted immigrants to come and do the jobs that no one else wanted to do.  They started in agriculture or construction and got paid very little for what they did, but it was much more than they could make in Mexico.  They came looking for a better future but have been kicked out of the country after building a nice life for themselves.

One man I met has four children, two girls and two boys, a wife and home he has paid for.  He got pulled over on the interstate for speeding and was arrested on the spot because he didn’t have a driver’s license.  He was locked up for weeks, didn’t get to say goodbye to his children and was literally dropped off at the border.  There was no trial and no chance for him to plead his case because he wasn’t allowed to contact a lawyer or even appear before a judge.  Such is the justice he received from our system.

Another man I met was licensed to work in heating and air, plumbing and as an electrician.  He entered the US legally 25 years ago and has been working ever since.  He paid off two homes, had his family and now is headed to Mexico City alone because his children are US citizens and in school.  They would have to quit school or seriously delay their education to be with him.  He won’t be allowed to come and see them.  In order to be with his family, they have to come see him.  So he lives with the reality that he will not be a big part of their future.

The man who worked in heating and air was arrested for a DUI.  For most people that means pay a fine and sit in jail for a few weeks.  Because he failed to keep up with his immigration paperwork, his punishment is losing all that he has and loves in the States.  He doesn’t plan on ever going back because it costs too much and is too dangerous now.  Instead he is going home to Mexico City and praying for his children.

One man who was served by this mission was in his 80’s and deported after two weeks spent in a coma because of a stroke.  Because he didn’t have his documentation, he was deported directly from the hospital.  When he came to and recovered from his stroke enough to remember his lawyer’s phone number, the mission learned that he had worked for the US government for over 30 years.  Despite his service to our country, he was only allowed to go back to the states because he had saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and had a good lawyer.

I’ve also heard stories of men who were stopped for a broken tail light, who have no criminal convictions, but were deported anyways.  At least one man who has been served at the mission fought for the US in Vietnam.  It seems that it is easier for the US government to get rid of these undocumented residents than it is to give them even a hearing before a judge.  Is this right?

As a Christian living in a “Christian” nation, do these policies reflect God’s justice?  Are they an expression of the forgiveness and welcome we have received from God through the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Christ?  What is our part in bringing some measure of restoration or justice to these men?

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord his God,

who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them,

who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,

who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the sojourners;

he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,

your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 146:5-10, ESV)

 

Life In The Desert

A lonely stream brings a green trickle of life to an otherwise brown, dry, dusty and dreary desert scene.

A lonely stream brings a green trickle of life to an otherwise brown, dry, dusty and dreary desert scene.

This aerial photograph of a beautiful slice of the Arizona desert shows how important water is for life.  In the background you can see evidence of erosion cut into the green-red-yellow rock.  It is a beautiful place, but a place where signs of life are few and scattered.

The average rainfall for the entire state of Arizona is just over 13 inches, and most likely much less where this picture was taken.  Making matters more difficult for life to thrive in the Arizona desert is the fact that there is little to no topsoil to hold water, so the little rain that does fall quickly runs off or evaporates.

On the left hand side of the picture you can see a lake.  At the end of the lake is a small stream that carries a trickle of water through the valley floor.  Even though this stream barely flows most of the year, it brings enough water to nourish a thin ribbon of green that cuts through the heart of the brown, dry, dusty desert.  With beautiful red rock cliffs in the background, it’s the kind of place that would be wonderful to visit, and looks pretty on postcards, but isn’t likely a place you would want to live.

The scriptures use the stark contrast between dry, dreary, dusty deserts and luscious waterways to describe the difference between living an abundant life in light of God’s love and the difficulty of living without the hope that comes through Christ.  Is it then any wonder that God chose to use water in baptism so that we could be reminded daily that He has given us life through the gift of His Son?

He poured His life out for us on the cross.  Baptismal water pours His life over us and into us when Holy Spirit given faith enters our hearts.  How fitting it is to daily remind ourselves that just as water brings life even in the driest deserts, that God’s love poured out for us on the cross and poured over us in our baptism gives us life!  Through daily confession and the gift of forgiveness in Christ, we grow in His life. Even when life is difficult, hope dries up and death threatens us, we live confident of the gift of everlasting life.

If Jesus is the living water the world needs, He is well represented in this picture by the lake full of enough water to impart life to an otherwise dead desert.  We, the people of God are represented by the green living things fed along the stream as it wanders through the wilderness.  The stream is the Church which carries living water into the world that desperately needs it.

The desert pressing in on all sides of the green ribbon of life represents many whom, living in the dry desert of hopelessness that sin has ushered into the world, don’t know the wonderful gift of life in Christ.  Apart from Christ, they are literally dying of thirst for the One who can quench their spiritual thirst with life-giving waters that well up to eternal life.  As Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14, He freely gives living water to all.  Yet, in order to receive it, people need to be connected to God in Christ through the ministry of the Church.

And yet many of the baptized seem content to idly drink deeply from the well of salvation without sharing their life-giving water of God’s love with others.  We convene lots of church meetings and hang out with our Christian friends and go to lots of worship services in our quest to get more of Jesus.  These activities aren’t bad, they’re all good.  But if we are so involved in the church, so inwardly focused that we aren’t reaching out to our community, then our life in Christ is much less than it should be.

Christ’s life was spent outwardly focused on others.  If we are only inwardly focused on ourselves, and what Jesus can do for us, we lack something.  We lack a measure of God’s love that is only experienced when we selflessly focus on others.

In light of this illustration, what should the people of God be doing?  Well, like any tree or shrub seeking to thrive, we should put our roots as deep as we can into the soil and be filled with as much living water as we can.  But we don’t only stretch our roots towards the stream, we put them out in every direction, knowing that this water has the power to penetrate deeply into the desert, bringing life into the lives of those around us.  When our thirst has been quenched, we grow, we thrive, and those around us are brought the water of life.

This is how the Church works.  This is how individual Christians grow.  And this is how God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to pour living water into the desert of sin and death that is the world we live in.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;

the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;

it shall blossom abundantly

and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,

and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!

Behold, your God

will come with vengeance,

with the recompense of God.

He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,

the grass shall become reeds and rushes. (Isaiah 35:1-7, ESV)

Live First, Work Second.

A few weeks ago, I learned of an interesting book by Rebecca Ryan titled, Live First, Work Second. The title intrigued me, and when I began looking into it and it didn’t take long to stumble across the premise of the book.  It describes a generational shift that has happened in how Americans think about work.  In short:

“Three out of four Americans under the age of 28 said a cool city is more important than a good job.”

That’s a significant insight!  After reading it, I guess I don’t know young adults as well as I thought because this idea had never occurred to me before.  But since reading more on the subject and conducting random straw polls in small gatherings of young people, I see this mindset alive and well among many of the young adults I work with and minister to.

Ryan continues, “The work/life calculus for the next generation had shifted.  Their parents may have followed a job, a promotion or corporate marching orders.  But the next generation was following their bliss, choosing cool cities and then finding work” (emphasis added).

What does this say about today’s young professionals and college students who are preparing for adulthood by figuring out where they want to live and then finding work once they get there?  It tells me that to them, the job isn’t as important as the life.

Wow!  It almost shocks me to say that this is a revelation.  Shouldn’t it have always been that way?!?

Yes, if we have our priorities right, work should come after life, and yet, when Americans entering the workforce embrace a Live First, Work Second mindset, it’s a cultural shift so big that it may very well affect the economic geography of our country (with even more people flocking to the coasts and large cities) and threaten the economies of entire states that can’t help the fact that they don’t appear to outsiders as fun and exciting places to live.

This trend is changing the way employers try to lure and retain the most promising talent.  Ever heard of what Google is doing to find and keep their employees?  Amazon has also been through a major revamping of its image as an employer, making it a coveted place to work in Seattle.

What can this shift in attitudes towards work teach all of us about our relationship between work and life?  Well, it makes me think this generation has seen how “happy” their parents are after years of pressing through the daily grind just to earn a living.  I wonder if unsatisfactory relationships with parents who never had enough time for them (most Millenials were raised in high-stress and/or broken homes) has shed an unsavory light on the priorities of previous generations.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Working and earning a living, the right to choose what you want to do for a living, how long you work and having some say in how much you make based on your occupational choice are all blessings from God.  But have Americans traditionally had an unhealthy relationship with their work?  Could doing have become more important than being in our hard-working, ruggedly individualistic society?

Ask someone to tell you something about themselves and they usually tell you what they do.  Ask them a follow-up question about who they are or what makes them unique and most struggle to come up with a good way to describe themselves without telling you again what they do or where they live.  This shouldn’t be the case for Christians.  As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

A view from the mountain where tradition says Jesus taught His disciples who they were in light of His undying love, not what they had to do in order to earn His love.

A view from the mountain where tradition says Jesus taught His disciples who they were in light of His undying love, not what they had to do in order to earn His love.

God has given us our identity in Christ who has taught us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness, confident that God will take care of the details for us.  I think that the millennial ideal of Live First, Work Second makes the Millennial mind more receptive to a gospel of being instead of doing.  If we understand who we are in light of Christ and His sacrifice for us, we will be led on the way of true joy and happiness.

If we get who we are in Christ and live lives invested in eternity, everything we do has eternal value because of WHO WE ARE.  Not because of what we do.  This gives everything in life lasting meaning.

This mindest equips Christians with an ethos, an understanding of who they are, that makes all of the difference between emptiness and fulfillment.  So who are we?  Redeemed children of God whose sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb.  Cleansed by His righteousness, we live in light of the resurrection.  Assured of our share in the hope of the resurrection, we are given every day as a gift to freely serve our Lord and Savior.

This is the mentality of the life of faith which is founded upon who God is and who He has made us in Christ.  This way of living is the only Way that offers a fulfilling satisfaction for the soul that longs for eternity in a dying world.  A scriptural Live First, Work Second mindset is Holy Spirit given and allows Christians freedom to love and to serve and to find a truly fulfilling life in Christ.

Live First, Work Second!