Immigration is a hot button topic in the American culture currently and in Christian circles you will find passionate debate on all sides of the issue. I would like to share some excerpts of a recent conversation I had with a friend on Facebook on the topic of immigration that really got my attention.
With permission from my friend I want to share three excerpts from our conversation and address them one by one for the encouragement and enlightenment of my readers. For the sake of not losing what I consider to be the main point I am going to present the conversation in reverse 3 part order from how it took place. This first post addressing the third or last excerpt from the conversation.
Statement #3. “I found his post offensive. A picture of the United States with all the Native American tribes stating America before illegal immigration. My first thought was where do I go? If I’m here illegally where do I go?”
The statement my friend made is a beautiful multi-faceted one that drives the issue toward compassion if we will let it.
Why should there be offense in this true statement? It is true that the Native Americans were here well before others and that foreign people came in and in most cases took that land from the Native and claimed ownership of it. This is a true historical statement.
Yes, in some instances the land was purchased or given although the purchase price for such land was in no way in my opinion equitable for the land that was acquired. In most cases concerning the Native American the land was taken by force. This is not something I should be held accountable for any more than…yes…I’m going to say it…any more than I am accountable for the slavery issue in the early United States. I was not there. I was not a perpetrator of crimes against humanity in either case. Now, if I perpetuate those crimes today then I become just as guilty and am accountable. This is truth.
But the statement from my friend above is a very enlightening one. She states that this conversation made her ask the question,
“If I am here illegally where do I go?”
And this, dear readers is the crux of the topic.
She is in a land that has afforded her opportunity not because she earned it or deserves it but merely because of location and nothing more. Yet the land she finds herself in - this land she knows as America - was taken from those to whom it first belonged. It was through war that it was won. It was through conflict, heartache and suffering that this land became the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is truth for all of us.
It was the heartache of a people seeking freedom from a government that mandated the religion and wealth of its people which in turn drove them to seek a new land in an effort to obtain freedom. What they found was a land that belonged to another people but these people didn’t measure up to what was considered civilized by the newcomers so they thinking themselves able to educate the savage worked toward conquering them in order to save them from their ignorant savage ways.
The natives, once they began to understand the intent of these foreigners attempted to protect their customs and ways; protect their culture. Conflict ensued and the native lost. Now a new people claimed their land as their own and the native became the alien; the minority.
Both groups asked the question, “Where do I go? Where do I belong?”
In seeking to belong they thought it necessary that the other become the alien. Conflict ensued yet a nation of freedom was born from it; freedom for some and oppression for others within the same country.
They perpetuated the very issue that drove one people from their homeland in the first place; the very issue that caused the other to defend their culture and endure conflict and loss.
Fast forward to today’s issue of immigration and we will see the same conflict of a people seeking freedom; seeking a land free from oppression where opportunity and safety could be gained and they cross our borders.
We as the natives realizing that this people group are attempting to change our culture and at times refusing to respect our laws and customs defend our land.
But these aliens now find themselves asking the same questions that my friend asked.
“Where do I go? If I am here illegally where do I go?”
This is especially true of the children of these aliens who have grown up here in America and have known no other homeland.
It is the same question that spurred those who founded this country to action causing them to leave their previous homeland and claim a new one; the same question that caused the native American to protect their homeland.
So in all of this seeking and conflict what should a Christian’s proper response be? Are we to merely live by the rules of our worldly government because God is silent on this issue?
If this is so then the founding fathers were a rebelliously sinful lot who founded a country born out of their own sin. Can it be said that our forefathers should have remained in the land in which they were born and endured the oppression as mandated by God in scripture when He said we should obey the rulers and authority set over us? Because God had placed them under that government and the rules of that government were to bow to governmental control of religion and wealth should they abide by them without question rather than seek freedom? Should the Christian dutifully acquiesce or is a Christian responsible to do more or to act differently?
To answer this I believe we must address the hateful word we know today as
Now I realize that this word privilege has become a hot button issue in the past few years but I’m going to speak to it anyway. Why? Because the elephant in the room is that we are all, each and every human being, privileged in some way on some level.
The problem is that each culture or society values and protects a different set of privileges; so if you do not possess a certain set of privileges which your current society or culture values then you become on some level oppressed. This is not something to become angry about. We are all guilty of oppressing and we all suffer oppression.
We live in a fallen creation and oppression is the result of our sin. This will continue until all things in creation are made new and the true enemy is put down permanently.
This is just the nature of the sinful fallen creation we live in. But that does not mean that we are to give in to the fallen nature of creation if we are believers? Of course not!
We hate this word, privilege, because we believe someone else in using it is claiming we are the bad guy or that they deserve something from us that we aren’t willing to give or don’t think they deserve.
The gut wrenching truth is that we are the bad guy!
We are all sinners in a fallen creation.
So yes, you are the bad guy; I am the bad guy.
Every human being on the planet is the bad guy.
There is none righteous; no not one!
Ah, but we are so busy focusing on the unrighteousness of another that we fail to recognize it in ourselves.
Sin is oppression plain and simple. Sin is egocentric in nature. Being egocentric means your outlook and concerns are limited to your own activities and needs over or instead of those of another. It means to consider your ego as the starting point for philosophy and action instead of God’s.
This word privilege causes arguments because we as Christians have become
a people of self-preservation rather than self-sacrifice.
We have given in to an egocentric nature rather than living in power and victory above it.
In the beginning, humankind was given dominion over creation. We were to take care of it for its health and proper working order so that it would be able to glorify its Creator as it was intended and God's name would be honored. Humankind then lost dominion in the fall and it was given over to Satan. This is what happened; Satan became the ruler of this world. Sin is his means of oppression over all creation and humankind is his vehicle for the spreading of this oppression.
But God in His goodness sent His Son who defeated Satan, death and sin. He won back dominion and through His victory we have been given the power to live above this creation in its fallen sinful state. If we are believers we have been given the power to live above our fallen state rather than under its power.
True, creation, the physical part, remains in its fallen state and will continue to suffer so until this world is destroyed and the New Heaven and New Earth come to be but spiritual creation has been renewed already through Christ. The believer has been made a new creation through Christ so that we have the power to overcome sin and live free of its oppression if we choose to do so.
This is the duty of the Christian.
I cannot emphasize this point enough.
This is the duty of the Christian: to live in power over sin through Christ.
When we do all of creation benefits not just the believer and it is through this kind of living that the believer glorifies and brings honor to the name of God their Father.
Christians because they have been given the gift of being made new spiritually and have been endowed with power over sin should live in that power not only for their own sanctification but also for the benefit of the fallen creation. Christians can and are called to live their new life in a way that sets captives free, that promotes justice, love and mercy; a way that exemplifies the sacrifice of Christ and glorifies God.
This is and should be our main objective in this life.
Once we become citizens of Heaven through accepting the gift offered to all through Christ’s death and resurrection we become strangers, aliens and foreigners in this world.
Abraham was an alien among the Hittites at Hebron (Gen. 23:4), as were Moses in Midian (Exod. 2:22) and the Israelites in Egypt (Deut. 23:7; cf. Ruth 1:1).
The Hebrew word is ger, and it has often been translated “sojourner” in English Bibles. After the settlement in Canaan, the term not only designated a temporary guest but also acquired the more specialized meaning of “resident alien,” one who lived permanently within Israel (Exod. 22:21; 23:9). No doubt because the Israelites were keenly aware of their own heritage as aliens without rights in a foreign land, they developed specific laws governing the treatment of aliens.
In the New Testament the great feature of the gospel is that those who were aliens from Israel, and so were ‘strangers and sojourners’ (Eph. 2:12, 19–20), have been made fellow heirs in the Israel of God. Now Christians are the aliens in this world and must live as pilgrims (1 Pet. 2:11).
We are called to live according to the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven of which we are citizens first and by the laws of the foreign world we physically find ourselves in second.
We are to always remember that we once were foreigners and aliens from the Kingdom of God and now find ourselves foreigners and aliens in this present world. Remembering is not a suggestion from God but a command as found in scripture.
- In Ezekiel’s prophet vision of a future time we see the alien sharing in the inheritance as though they were native born…“So you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. “You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. “And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance,” declares the Lord God.
- Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, aexcluded 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 formerly were far off have been brought near dby the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might cmake the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,
- All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
- But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
It is in the remembering that we once were foreigners that we are enabled to act in compassion toward the alien in an effort to free them from oppression whether that oppression is physical or spiritual.
So if I use my privileged status as an American to promote myself above another human being in anyway instead of using it to help another human being live in safety, justice and dignity then I as a human being and as a Christian am in sin.
This is in no way meant to be offensive although I must warn you it may well feel like it is.
Christians on some level used to understand something that we today seem to have forgotten. They used to understand that what they had been given came at a price paid by someone else for them. They benefited from someone else’s sacrifice. This also can be applied both spiritually and physically.
The Christian’s citizenship in God’s Heavenly Kingdom does not exist because he or she deserves it. It exists and is available to all because of the sacrifice of the One for all.
In the same vein, the United States does not exist because Americans deserve to be here or deserve to have physical freedom. The United States exists because from the very beginning people made sacrifices that we all benefit from. There are those who are still sacrificing today not only for us in the United States but for the freedom from oppression for those in other countries. Most Americans have done nothing to deserve or protect their freedom. The ones who have earned their freedom through sacrifice do not feel entitled to it. But…we are supposed to be talking about the spiritual aspect.
So why are we addressing the spiritual when immigration is a physical issue not a spiritual one? Does God have anything to say here or as some may believe is He silent? For the believer is immigration merely a physical issue? For that matter is there anything anymore for the believer that is merely a physical issue and not a spiritual one at the same time? This writer must argue no there is not.
Just as man was created with a dual nature for we are both physical and spiritual beings at the same time and this dual nature cannot be separated or compartmentalized (by this I mean that each one has a profound effect on the other and neither can be separated or isolated from the other) so too our world has a dual nature.
If this were not a true statement then all of creation would not have been affected by the fall in the Garden.
The fall in the garden was a spiritual act through the means of the physical world.
So then the life of a Christian becomes a spiritual act through the means of the physical world.
Neither can be separated from the other. This is how it was meant to be.
So the question of “if I am here illegally where do I belong; where do I go” can be answered both physically and spiritually by Christians seeking freedom for the oppressed, and justice, mercy and love for all mankind…for all creation both physically and spiritually.
That answer is that as a Christian you are a citizen of Heaven not of America or of Earth. You are a foreigner here. You are an alien. But as an Ambassador you are one who has been given the power to defeat the enemy and set captives free. The power to enable the alien to take hold of spiritual citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven which is the most important citizenship to be gained but you have also been given the power to enable the alien to take hold of physical citizenship here in America through votes, resources and personal freedom which empowers you to call for action and change. A freedom which enables you to fight for the alien if you choose.
The answer is that you belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and you go before the throne of grace for comfort and help. And the King has made you an Ambassador to represent Him here in this foreign land. You are to remember who you once were, a foreigner and an alien so that you can have compassion on those who are still foreigners and aliens of the commonwealth of Israel. The greatest lesson you can show someone who is a foreigner and an alien in America whether legal or illegal in order to reach them for the Gospel is to be an instrument of God in meeting their physical need first so that they can see the lesson and realize their spiritual need. We should not depend on America for our identity or help. Don’t get comfortable here because you aren’t staying. Take as many people with you by whatever means the Spirit provokes you to use.
 Carson, H. M. (1996). Foreigner. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 381). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 2:11–19). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eze 47:21–23). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 2:11–19). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Heb 11:13). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Pe 2:9–12). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Micah 6:8; Deuteronomy 10:12; Jeremiah 22:3). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.