Monday, December 05, 2016

Thanksgiving and Immigration

Ruth Ryder at the Torch has an intersting article called Thanksgiving, Christian Hospitality, and “Illegal” Immigrants.

Remember Where You Came From
Scripture is full of instructions on how the people of God are to treat foreigners. The Hebrew Bible contains several reminders that the Israelites were once foreigners in Egypt and would be still, were it not for God’s grace. Now, God tells them, true justice requires extending hospitality toward immigrants.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NRSV)
This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ (Zechariah 7:9-10, NIV)
There are many more examples from the Hebrew Bible besides the two I have provided. In the New Testament, Christians are similarly reminded that they were once strangers to God, utterly sinful (lawbreakers!) and undeserving of his hospitality. We didn’t first get a green card and take the Heavenly Kingdom citizenship test before God extended his hospitality toward us.

Gentiles especially must remember that they were also once “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:11-22, NRSV)
Although we are now no longer strangers to God, we have become strangers to the world. We are pilgrims in this world in search of our heavenly homeland, which has become ours through God’s generous gift of hospitality (Hebrews 11:13-16). And so we are instructed that we, too, must extend hospitality to strangers (Matthew 25: 34-46; Hebrews 13:2; Romans 12:13).

Just as it is important for us as Christians to remember our past as foreigners to God and his kingdom when considering how we ought to treat foreigners among us, it is also important to remember our ethnic heritage and past in this country. Every caucasian in this country is the descendant of people who chose to leave their homeland in search of a better life. And when you consider the ruthless acquisition of land and all 500+ broken treaties with the Native Americans, America itself is a nation of “illegal immigrants.” Simply because the lawbreaking, unjust agent happens to be the government doesn’t magically make those acts legal and just, even if it absolves itself of any wrongdoing. If you’re a Christian, you should be able to recognize that there is a higher law to which even the United States government ought to submit.

Add to that irony the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the deportation of the Indians living in the southeast to west of the Mississippi River. And so the original inhabitants were “legally” forced to leave their own homes and travel hundreds of miles in what became known as the “Trail of Tears,” killing many thousands along the way. Claiming the moral highground in order to expel people deemed to be inferior is nothing new. Your government might legalize its own actions, and yet they remain fully “illegal” in the eyes of God.

Follow the link above and read the entire article.

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