Last week a 23-year-old illegal immigrant to the US drove drunk, and ended up smashing into a car of nuns, killing one and critically injuring two more. This was apparently his third DUI. Deportation proceedings had been begun earlier but he was "released on his own recognizance" and thus still in the country driving drunk.
This incident was the springboard for my boy and I to discuss the problems of illegal immigration, and why it's such a thorny issue. On the one hand, we have many illegals in this country who work hard and are otherwise "good citizens," and it's difficult to imagine doing a complete purge. The countries they come from probably offer quite harsh conditions and real difficulties to even scratching out subsistence. On the other hand, there is a long line for LEGAL immigrants, who spend much money and time waiting for the honor of becoming an American citizen. Is it fair that others push ahead? Furthermore, most of the illegals are unskilled, and tend to utilize many of this country's resources: public schools, subsidized health care, food stamps, and on and on. Money they earn is often sent back to their country of origin rather than being recycled into the American economy. They often do not wish to learn English. Gangs, drugs, and crime are imported from a few of these illegals, causing an unsafe environment for the "natives" (Americans).
My son wondered what you do with, say, the kids who had nothing to do with their parents illegally entering the country? What do you do with the illegals who live quietly and positively work and contribute to this country?
Well, I'm not going to pontificate on a perfect solution because I'm stymied. Let's just say the problem is tangled and complex, and it got me thinking about borders in general. More specifically, about the border of another country, the permeability of which seems to be often assumed but not necessarily pondered.
A 2004 Gallup poll showed that about 80% of people believe in heaven, and about 70% believe in hell. Furthermore, a similar poll in 1988 indicated that about three-quarters of people who believed in hell thought they'd go to heaven instead.
Many people (and many movies!) seem to think that Heaven is simply something beautiful and a wonderful place to be. The concept of "God" isn't usually mentioned except as a diffused and passive presence, a Light that permeates all things. "Go into the Light," as they say.
Like the Gallup pollees I also believe in heaven and hell (although I WISH I didn't believe in hell). As a Christian I hold to Jesus' statement: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No one comes to the Father but by me. (John 14:6). Through a year-long research journey objectively studying the events surrounding the death of Jesus, I concluded that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. I moved from skeptic to Christian, and you can read something about my reasoning at my website HERE.
The beliefs of a Christian are quite specific. A Christian believes that God is Holy and cannot tolerate any sin, not even "little" ones. No one can possibly be holy as God is, and therefore cannot be in His presence. However, God is also a God of Love, and therefore sent/became Jesus, who was both God and man, to live a sinless life. Jesus was offered as a sacrifice on the cross so that He would take on our sin, and we could have His righteousness imputed upon us -- therefore, we CAN be considered righteous to be in God's presence. To become a Christian, one simply has to acknowledge that he cannot measure up to God's standards, then accept Jesus' sacrifice to cover his sinfulness.
Going back to the previous topic, some Americans are incredibly annoyed by illegals because they feel that illegals want to take advantage of the USA without contributing anything in the way of taxes or even learning the language. It struck me that many people look at Heaven this way also: they want all the "goodies" of God's presence (love, peace, beauty) without wanting to love Him or to bow their wills to His or otherwise learn to know Him.
The question then becomes, how permeable are Heaven's borders?