A Sanctuary Church
I saw an advertisement on the internet last week that made the proclamation that The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has passed a measure declaring their entire denomination to be a “sanctuary church” for migrants, including those who entered the United States illegally.
How should we feel about that? Is that a good thing, or is it a sad thing? How should a Christian view “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants?
First of all, you won’t find the term, “illegal immigration” in the bible, but I’m quite sure that we can find some biblical principles, that can be applied to the subject. But we need to stick with new testament teachings, because that’s the law that we live under.
The very first talking point that people use, who are in favor of allowing illegal immigration to continue, and even to flourish, is the bible principle that says we need to be compassionate towards all people. That we need to love them, and do for them, and stand up for them. And that’s true..
Galatians 6:10 says; “ So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, and especially to those of the household of faith.”
Mathew 5:46 says; “For if you love those who love you (That means, if you love ONLY those who love you) what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?”
Proverbs 31:8 & 9 says; ” Open your mouth for the dumb (for those who can’t speak), for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.”
If we would BE Christians, and live as Christians, we can’t ignore these bible principles, and commands. We can claim to be Christians, but we can’t BE Christians, unless we live by these laws from God. But of course we know, that these moral principles that govern our lives, are not the only thing that enters into the picture, when we talk about illegal immigration.
I’ve heard several people say, when talking about all these people that have come to this country; What would Jesus have done? But what a most people don’t recognize, is that what Jesus would do, would depend on the circumstances. Is someone truly in need, or is someone simply claiming to be in need, and actually lying and deceiving, and taking advantage?
When people were hungry, and couldn’t feed themselves, what did Jesus do? He fed them. But when people had less than “pure” motives, like the people who were selling their goods on the temple grounds, and as Jesus said, they were.. “making My Father’s house, ad house of merchandise”, (John 2:16) what did Jesus do then? Well, verse 15 says; “And He made a scourge of cords, (in other words, He made a whip) and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables.”
When people ask; “What would Jesus do?”.. I heard one guy answer and say; “Well, driving people away with a whip is definitely within the realm of possibilities.”
And the point is, what Jesus would do, would depend on the true circumstances of the situation. And what we should do, and how we should feel about illegal immigration, depends on the true circumstances.
But there’s a key word involved, in the subject of illegal immigration; And that key word is “illegal”. Here’s what the bible says about things illegal.. It says in Romans 13, verses 1 & 2; “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, he who resists authority, has resisted the ordinance of God. And they who have opposed, will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
So then, do we need to love everyone? Yes we do. Do we need to stand up for everyone who can’t stand up for themselves? Yes we do. Do we need to do it legally? Yes we do. And if we don’t do it legally, we have “opposed God”, and we have “resisted the ordinance of God”. And all those who have entered the this country illegally, have opposed God, and have condemnation upon themselves.
Now I realize that the majority of people who endorse illegal immigration, probably have absolutely no use for the bible, but for those of us who do respect the bible, we need to be sure, that we’re using the bible as our foundation, by which we form our opinions, on the issues that face us, and that face our country and our society.
Let’s talk about this idea of a “sanctuary church”. This declaration by the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of America”, that their entire denomination, will now be official “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants, is just one more step in the direction that various individual congregations, of various religious beliefs, have already taken. From a humanitarian point of view, various groups in this country, which now includes the entire body of Evangelical Lutherans, want to shelter illegal immigrants from arrest, and deportation.
But yet by doing this, they’re breaking the laws of our country. So then, is this “humanitarian intervention”, something that God approves of, OR, no matter how pure people claim that their motives are, is this the sinful activity of “resisting the ordinance of God”, by breaking the law in the country in which you live?
Now, we need to be aware, that the bible DOES give us the approved example, of the apostles ignoring a civil law, and breaking that law, because that particular law goes against the law of God. That example is found in Acts chapter 4. Peter and John had been arrested for preaching that Jesus was the Christ. And since the Jews didn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, that was against Jewish law.
And so the bible says, in Acts 4, verses 17 thru 18; “But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man, in this name. And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all, in the name of Jesus.”
But now listen to how Peter and John answered, in verses 19 & 20; “..Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you, rather than to God, you be the judge; For we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” In other words, we cannot, and we will not obey your law, because your law goes against the law of God, and the law of God is what we must obey.
So then for a Christian, the question is; Do the immigration laws of this country, in any way, go against the laws of God? If our laws are contrary to God’s laws, then we must disregard those laws, and abide by God’s laws instead. But, if our immigration laws in no way conflict with God’s laws, then we must obey the laws of our country, regarding the legal way for immigrants to enter the country. And by supporting and aiding illegal immigration, we will be opposing God, and resisting the ordinance of God. That ordinance being; Respect and obey the laws of the land in which you live.
So once again; Do the immigration laws of this country, oppose the laws of God? It’s seems that this country, or any country needs to have some sort of immigration laws and policies, because it’s quite obvious that no country, by itself, has the resources needed to feed, and house, and care, for all the people in the whole world. And so there has to be a limit somewhere, as to how many people can come to a given country to live. Especially if those people are actually “planning” on being dependent on the country they want to live in, for their sustenance.
How about this question.. Is a given country obligated to God, to at least take care of it’s own citizens? I think the bible answers that question. And I want to use an example from the old testament. And even though it’s from the old testament, I think that this example serves as a principle that would apply to all governments, or all kingdoms, for all times.
The Example is from the book of Daniel, and it concerns king Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4, verses 10 thru 12, Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel about a dream that he had, which troubled him. And here’s the description of the dream, beginning in verse 10..
“Now these were the visions of my mind as I lay on my bed; I was looking, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and it’s height was great. The tree grew large and became strong, and it’s height reached to the sky. And it was visible to the end of the whole earth. It’s foliage was beautiful, and it’s fruit abundant, and it was food for all. And the beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the sky dwelt in it’s branches, and all living creatures fed themselves from it.”
Picture that huge tree, that was the center of everything. And all living creatures found their sustenance, from that tree. Now listen to the interpretation that Daniel gives to Nebuchadnezzar, concerning that dream. Daniel says, beginning in verses 20 thru 22..
“The tree that you saw, which became large, and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky, and was visible to all the earth, and whose foliage was beautiful, and it’s fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged; It is you O king! For you have become great, and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky, and your dominion to the end of the earth.”
So it was Nebuchadnezzar and his great kingdom, that was likened, in his dream, to a great tree which gave life and sustenance to all the living creatures around it. Now, why do you think that God likened Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom to this great “life sustaining” tree? Well, I believe that it was likened to that tree, because that’s the purpose of a great kingdom, or a great nation. To be there to provide for it’s inhabitants; To provide for it’s citizens.
Think for a minute about the eternal kingdom of heaven. Jesus said in Revelation 2, verse 7; “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life.” Revelation 22:17 says; “..And let the one who is thirsty come; Let the one who wishes take of the water of life, without cost.” (freely)
God’s kingdom provides life and sustenance, and it’s only natural that He would expect the same from the kingdoms of men. After all, the lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn was that “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” (Daniel 4, verse 32)
Now, here’s a difference between the eternal kingdom of God, and the physical nations of men. Almighty God can afford to give life and sustenance, without cost. But there’s not a nation on earth that can afford to give sustenance to everyone, for free. Unfortunately, in this life, economics are involved.
But a nation doesn’t have to give everything away for free, in order to provide for it’s citizens like God desires. A nation, like the United States, can provide for it’s citizens by providing them a place to work, and a place earn, and an opportunity to provide for themselves, and for their families. And if that’s what an immigrant is looking for, a place to work, and to earn a living, and an opportunity to provide for themselves and their family, then they need to seek it, through legal methods.
But if someone has come here for the express purpose of getting something for nothing, then God has declared, in 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 10; “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.”
And, God has also declared, in 1 Timothy 5, verse 8; “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”, or “an unbeliever”.
Those are God’s laws, and there’s absolutely no reason that they shouldn’t be the laws of a nation also. A Christian nation, that abides in the laws of God.
Does God want us to provide for those who CANNOT provide for themselves? Of course He does. That’s a part of the example of Nebuchadnezzar and the great tree, whose purpose was to provide for ALL living creatures. The bible describes the governments of men, in Romans 13, verse 4, as “a minister of God, to you, for good.”
But it’s up to nations, and individuals, to use their common sense, and their wisdom, in determining who is truly deserving, and needing of help, and who isn’t in need.
We’re told in 1 Corinthians 4, verse 2; “..it is required of stewards that they be trustworthy.” We need to use our blessings properly, but wisely. Jesus asks the question, in Luke 12, verse 42; “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?”
Jesus was talking about a slightly different subject there, but there’s still a principle that applies. We need to sue wisdom, in helping others. And we need to make sure that those we’re helping, truly do need help, and aren’t just looking for handouts.
Now this is by no means a 100% comprehensive study on the subject, but let’s allow the words of God, to form our opinions on the subject of immigration, and on all subjects that we deal with in life.
And let’s use the words of God, to tell us how to be forgiven of our sins. Lets hear His word, and believe that Jesus is the Christ. Let’s confess our faith in Him, and repent of our sins, and be baptized for the forgiveness of those sins, and then let’s remain faithful unto death, wo that we can receive the crown of life.