We’re All Foreigners

With all of the talk about who’s a refugee and who isn’t, I thought that I would get in on the action. It seems to me that many people, including many leaders in our nation, think that we are natives to this land. While we may have been born here in the States, it certainly isn’t our home, not if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ.

Please allow me to explain myself before you find another blog to follow. I am not saying that our national security is not at risk, nor am I saying that refugees from different nation states are automatically terrorists. I can post my thoughts on that issue anther time. But my philosophy is that if we all could find a common denominator, something that unifies us on the most basic of levels, we can then find commonalities that unite us rather than divide. Once you do a little digging through scripture, the Syrian refugee and the American Christian are not so different after all.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from the desires of the flesh, which war against your soul. Conduct yourselves with such honor among the Gentiles that, though they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” – 1 Peter 2:9-12

Peter was writing to a community, a church, of Jewish followers of Christ who knew no home at the time. They had been exiled, torn from their homes, utterly helpless to their situations. They were refugees, outsiders, and outcasts. Peter was harking back to the times of the Exodus, the first time that the Hebrew people were left without a home.

“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 22:21

The Jewish Christ followers knew what it was like to constantly be on the run, and they knew how they would have wished to be treated. This is why God commanded them to treat the stranger and the foreigner the same way they would have wanted to be treated in the same situation. Peter was calling back to the times when the Jews were taken out of their home to Egypt, and then from Egypt, and then from Assyrian captivity and Babylonian rule, to finally having their homes occupied by the Greeks, then the Romans who finally drove them out of their homeland yet again. To this audience Peter is writing, and to this audience God calls us out of our heavenly dwelling to live amongst the earth.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once made the beautiful comparison that we are all new creations, spiritual creatures dwelling in decaying flesh after we become disciples of Christ. We are to perform the acts of Christ Himself while He is preparing our house for us. We, the new creations of God are dwelling in a home that is not ours.

“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. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” – Hebrews 11:13-16

You are not home. Not yet. I am not home. Ever since I decided to follow Jesus, I have been a stranger in a foreign land. If you follow Jesus, you won’t be home until your Savior shows you His place that He Himself made for you. Your home is heaven, and you are a stranger in a land that does not know you. May we all identify ourselves as foreigners and nomads, destitute and homeless. And may we also treat our neighbor with the same decency as God treated us while we were still His enemies: with compassion and grace all the more. May we all treat one another as neighbor refugees, as brothers and sisters and foreigners, and may we love all equally and without bias until Christ calls us home. Amen.

 

 

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