This is a Guest Post by Jeff Bennett
About a year ago I started to pray for our nation.
I didn’t ask God to bless America.
I didn’t pray for a particular outcome in the presidential election.
I didn’t even pray for America, really.
I prayed for her people – for our hearts. I hoped & prayed that we would love one another. That’s as far as I’ve ventured into American politics recently.
I try to avoid politics. They’re divisive. They’re corrupting. They hurt people. If you know me well the title of this post may have surprised you. It surprised me.
But I want to reiterate one of the things I dislike about politics: they hurt people.
People matter. That seems obvious, but I think we forget that sometimes. Politics affect real people. People with hopes and dreams. People with fears and insecurities. People who are mothers & fathers – sons & daughters. People who are extravagantly loved by the Creator of this Universe. Because of this, I don’t believe immigration to (singularly) be a political issue – it is a people (and really a theological) issue. This isn’t a question of liberal or conservative – Republican or Democrat – or really, even, of good or bad policy. At the heart of this issue sit – our hearts.
When you see a foreigner, who do you see?
Do you see someone who doesn’t belong?
Someone that isn’t worthy?
Someone who’s home is elsewhere?
There’s a Hebrew word used frequently throughout the Old Testament:
It (& the Greek variation of it – ξένος) appears 91 times throughout Scripture. It’s commonly translated as the stranger, the alien, or the foreigner. Those who are often called unworthy or unwelcome. What we have to say of them matters little. This world isn’t ours – as much as we’d like it to be. What matters is what their Creator has to say of them – what your Creator has to say about them. And HE says:
They are worthy. They are welcome here.
So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 10:19
The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. – Leviticus 19:34
Immigration matters. It is much more a theological issue than political. What we believe about the foreigner (ξένος) and what we believe about our Creator are intimately linked to one another.
Does our God recklessly pursue the wanderer, the sojourner, the stranger, and the lost? Is He welcoming? Inviting? Generous beyond human comprehension?
Or does He leave the door of His Kingdom shut to the outsider?
He doesn’t, praise Jesus. Our God looks upon us, once outsiders, & says:
You belong here.
You are worthy.
Your home is here – with me.
He says the same to the foreigner. We should too.
Friends, I pray that our heart for the stranger would look like the Father’s. That we would love, care for, and serve the strangers around us – not reject them.
Embrace the love of our Father – embrace the love that He has for all of His people.
This world will never be the same.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
– Emma Lazarus’ New Colossus – Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty