01 Feb Welcoming the Sojourner
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” – Hebrews 13:2
President Trump’s recent Executive Order has resulted in Americans of every political persuasion voicing their opinions regarding the current refugee crisis.
Regardless of where your political views on immigration fall, as Christians it is imperative that we as individuals extend personal welcome and care to the stranger, foreigner, sojourner and refugee in our homes and neighborhood.
If you desire to respond in a Christ-like way to this crisis, I present the following ideas to you:
For the Christian, Indifference is Not an Option – Scripture is replete with examples and imperatives on caring for those who come to our land from other countries:
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.“
Leviticus 19:33-34 “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.“
These passages not only tell us to care for sojourners and foreigners among us, but to love them as ourselves.
For the Christian, Inaction is not an Option -We all tell our children the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How does this apply to the refugees in our own community?
Have we asked ourselves the question of what it would be like to live in a war-torn country, narrowly escaping death and then entering a land that was completely foreign and unknown? Where no one spoke our language, we didn’t understand the culture, and we had to piece our lives back together without any of the comforts of home? This is what the current refugee struggles through every day, along with so much more.
We must not be silent or unresponsive to these needs. We must respond in the same way that Christ responded to us when we were aliens and strangers of the gospel of His great love: “In Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
There are refugees in my community that have very tangible leads. We have already had the opportunity to provide Christmas gifts to a Syrian refugee family in our area and I look forward to partnering with others in our neighborhood churches who are working to meet the needs of local refugees.
The question we must always ask ourselves is not what is out of our hands, but what can we do? We can educate our children on the importance of caring for those who are new to our neighborhood and country, opening our homes and lives to them, and offering to meet tangible needs as they are presented.
Also, you can give financially to World Relief or other organizations who are providing and caring for refugees.
Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee and offered this prayer on his blog, Heavenward. Let’s join him in his prayer:
Heavenly Father, no matter the nation into which we were born, we were in the far away land of sin and death when you rescued us, and brought us into the gracious country of your heart. We were foreigners to your mercies, strangers to your grace, and rebels to your kingdom.
Yet you had great compassion on us, welcomed us, and adopted us into your family—making us a nation of priests, to worship and serve you forever. Hallelujah! We are citizens of heaven and earth, with new-birth certificates and a calling to love others as you love us in Jesus.
Though the issues are complex, the challenges are real, and the risks are many, free us to welcome foreigners, immigrants, and refugees, as you welcome us in the gospel. Increase our faith, enlarge our hearts, and supersize our love.
We, who are Americans, pray for our government officials who have to make difficult decisions in the middle of a fresh and growing refugee crisis. May wisdom trump fear, generous welcome be more obvious than self-protection, and good policies prevail over partisan politics.
Father, may our churches lead the way and day, by caring more for the “least of these” than fearing the “worst of them.” Help us channel our fear and anger into acts of radical mercy and grace. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ loving and welcoming name.