Walls, Borders and Strangers

There is new rule in case you missed it.  You are not a Christian if you believe in border security or building walls to protect the nation’s security.  So says California Governor Jerry Brown.  Long known as a great theologian and expert in the Christian faith, Governor Brown recently declared this new tenant of the faith.  The Christian Post reports,  “Brown, who is angling to make California America’s first sanctuary state, said he wants the U.S. government to do the “Christian thing” when it comes to the wall as he doesn’t expect to be fighting it through lawsuits alone.”

“We’re not going to bring stupid lawsuits or be running to the courthouse every day. We’re going to be careful. We’ll be strategic. And we’ll do the right human – and I would even say Christian – thing, from my point of view. You don’t treat human beings like that,” Brown said. (You can read the entire post here.)

Brown is not the only notable character to weigh in on the issue.  During the Presidential campaign CNN reported Pope Francis declared that Donald Trump “‘is not a Christian’ if he calls for the deportation of undocumented immigrants and pledges to build a wall.”

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” the Pope told journalists who asked his opinion on Trump’s proposals to halt illegal immigration.

Well, there you have it.  If you lock your doors you are not a Christian.  Brown and the Pope both sadly show a severe lack of biblical understanding.  Their hypocrisy is easy to expose.  Brown has a security detail.  He lives in the historic Governor’s mansion in Sacramento, which happens to be surrounded by a fence.  Now, mind you, it is not a fence that would provide much protection but I don’t think you can just walk in the place anytime you want.

The Pope also as has a security detail called the Swiss Guard (a small army) and he lives behind a wall which is more like a fortress.  Why is okay for him to live behind a wall, but not for others to do so? I kindly suggest he knows not whereof he speaks.

What does the Bible say?  When the Apostle Paul was addressing the philosophers in Athens he said, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,” (Acts 17:26, NKJV).  It would appear that God thinks national boundaries are appropriate since He is actually the One who set them.

Paul might have had in mind this verse, “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:8, NKJV) God “set boundaries” for the nations and for His people Israel, whom He favored.  This verses references God’s dispersing of the nations over all the earth after the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:8).

God warned in the law that ancient landmarks, which were unmistakably marks of property boundaries, were not to be removed (Deut. 19:14; 27:17; Prov. 22:28; Hos. 5:10).  This makes it plain that boundaries are not only acceptable to God but also an integral part of His sovereign plan for the world.  And God is the One who can change the boundaries and shift the balance of power as He sees fit (Job 12:23).

But the loud cry coming from many quarters today for acceptance of “all-comers” in the refugee world is coming from those who do not really practice what they preach.  They do not open their homes or businesses to “all-comers” in the homeless world.  They protect their homes and families, as they should.  They speak out of both sides of their mouths.  The duplicity is stunning.

So what does the Bible require of us regarding refugees or strangers?  Israel had to deal with this often and the instructions they received were clear.  For example, ““You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow’s garment as a pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.” (Deut. 24:17–18, NKJV)

Notice that the requirement includes “justice due the stranger.”  What this means is that God intended Israel, and therefore every other nation, to be a nation of laws.  God puts governments in charge and they have a fiduciary duty to the people they govern (Rom. 13:1-7).  Immigration laws exist for the protection of the governed, as well as those who legally immigrate to a new country (cf. Deut. 27:19).

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.” (Proverbs 27:12, NKJV)  This is a clear warning.  A wise man will carefully determine whom he allows to have access to his property and proximity to his family.  He can see evil and protects himself, and those he loves, from it.  That’s why we lock doors, have security systems, and are careful about the company we keep and the places we go.  A nation has the same responsibility to its citizens.

Recall that Joshua was tricked by strangers, Nehemiah built a wall to protect Jerusalem from strangers, and Daniel prophesied that the wall around Jerusalem would be rebuilt when Jesus returns.

Our actions towards strangers depend on the situation.  We are not to mistreat them (Ex. 22:21).  Israel had been strangers in Egypt.  Bear in mind, they were there legally!  After many years the Egyptians, who failed to remember what Joseph had done for them, began to mistreat Israel.  We know the story of God’s deliverance.

When strangers come to you, as you have the ability you should help them.  You cannot help every poor person, every homeless person, or every refugee with whom you come into contact.  But when and where you can help, you should.

Jesus said, “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in.” (Matt. 25:35, NKJV)  We might consider the context.  This is included in the passage that speaks of the coming judgment of the nations when Jesus returns.

The standard regards the way the nations of the earth treated Israel.  Is there a more general application?  There is.  When the Bible speaks of lodging or entertaining strangers most of the references are clearly directed at hosting fellow believers or visiting preachers (cf. 3 John 5-8; Heb. 13:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:10).  There is no wide open statement regarding a requirement to take in every needy person that knocks on your door.

Are we to relieve the poor?  Absolutely, and that starts with your family and your church.  As you take care of them and God provides the resources you should consider expanding the level of your assistance.  In all your work with the poor you should have as a goal the sharing of the gospel of Christ.

Jesus said that the taking in of strangers was righteous because it was done to “the least of these My brethren.” (Matt. 25:40) Again, in the context He is specifically referring to His brethren the Jews during the time of the Great Tribulation.  But a principle can be discerned from this.  Since Jesus is the Creator of all people we should exercise mercy wherever we have opportunity.  “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” (Proverbs 14:31, NKJV)

There is always a need for balance in our understanding of Scripture.  Blanket statements that demand Christians must do one thing or another to prove adherence to the faith usually fail for lack of actual biblical support.  The accusation that you are not a Christian if you believe in walls, locked doors, the rule of law, and security, on both a personal and national level, is simply not true.

So, lock your doors, protect your family, secure your nation, and find a way to serve the needy!  God will be glorified and those you love will be the better for it.

One comment

  1. Brian Sistrunk · · Reply

    A great read! Keep up the great work!!

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