A Christian Response to Kids on the Border

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Manage episode 209530476 series 2111207
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Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. I wish I had a cute story to introduce this message. I just don’t. There is nothing cute about what’s happening in our country right now. I really do try to remain neutral when it comes to politics and political things. In all things, I fully believe that the life a Christian should lead doesn’t run parallel to the secular world, it also doesn’t run counter or perpendicular to the secular world. It runs in, through, around, about, in spite of, and apart from the secular world. Disciples of Christ march to the beat of a different drum than that of the world around them. That does not mean that we ignore what’s happening, rather it means that we live our lives the way God calls us to and when that call comes into contact with the world around us (hint hint…everyday), then the life that we lead brings life to the surrounding world. This is the pattern of life and health that Jesus sets for us—filth does not overcome cleanliness, cleanliness overcomes filth…darkness does not overcome light, light banishes darkness…death does not reign over life, life has defeated death. Our Christian life and witness transforms the world around us by our presence, the world does not force us to conform to it (sound familiar?). So, I trust that faithfully following Christ will produce fruit in the world that leads people to knowing Jesus on a deeper level, and as the pastor of a church, therefore, I don’t need to make comment on every little things that comes up in the political world, specifically, around us. Today is different. As I’m sure most of you know, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this comment on Thursday, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.” End quote. Wow. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to stomach that Paul would have written those words to justify the separation of 1,995 children from their families from April 19-May 31. And if I’m being honest, I think we can prove that today. There’s just so much that we need to unpack here, because, quite frankly, Mr. Sessions is proof-texting (pulling a text out of its context). One of my seminary professors, Dr. Dongell, used to be very strict with us in our Bible Study classes by telling us that a “text without a context is just a pretext for whatever you want it to be.” We CANNOT ignore the context of this verse.
  1. What Paul IS saying: Pay your taxes.
    1. Paul is writing to the Romans around the year 55AD….They had just been allowed to come back into Rome after a period of exile, along with the rest of the Jews. The Emperor was Claudius (not Nero). It was a time of ambivalence toward the Jewish and Christian faiths. Paul is encouraging the Christians in the Roman Church that they are present at a time when God has set up the Roman authority, so they should do as little as possible to rock the boat and therefore keep their position in the mission field of Rome. He sums up his instructions about living life under the Roman authority in verse 7: Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. So, here in this portion of Romans, Paul IS encouraging the ROMANS, present in the Church in 55AD, to submit to the Roman authority.
    2. More significantly, Paul is telling CHRISTIANS to SUBMIT voluntarily to the just actions of their government. HE IS NOT CONDONING THE ACTIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT…HE IS TELLING THE DISCIPLES TO HONOR GOD BY HONORING THE GOVERNMENT.
  2. What does the immediate context of Romans 13 say?
    1. Live a life of non-conformity to the religious spirit and secular pressures of the day: Romans 12:2
    2. Live in humility and unity with the whole church 12:3-8
    3. After a discussion of various gifts in the body of Christ, Paul calls on the Christian community to practice a radical, genuine form of love that corresponds to the love they have received from God in Christ. This includes hating what is evil and practicing the good; showing hospitality to strangers; loving enemies; weeping with those who weep; associating with the lowly; blessing persecutors; not repaying evil for evil; practicing peace toward all; not seeking vengeance for harm done; and overcoming evil with good. 12:9-21
      1. This is the ethic and framework for life that Paul is instructing the Romans to live according to, immediately before his words in 13:1-7
    4. Immediately after 13:1-7, Paul finishes this ethic by again calling us to radically love our neighbor, for love (of the other) is the fulfillment of the Law.
  3. Further, it should be noted that Paul was eventually trialed and later executed for civil disobedience (preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ).
So, if it’s wrong to use this verse to justify what’s happening at the border, what does the Bible have to say about this?
  1. Exodus 23:9
    1. You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt
  2. Leviticus 19:33-34
    1. When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God
  3. Deuteronomy 10:17-19
    1. The LORD your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt
  4. Deuteronomy 24:19-21
    1. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow
  5. Deuteronomy 26:12
    1. When you have finished paying the entire tenth part of your produce on the third year—that is the year for paying the tenth-part—you will give it to the Levites, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows so they can eat in your cities until they are full
  6. Psalm 146:9
    1. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin
  7. Jeremiah 7:5-7
    1. If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever
  8. Jeremiah 22:3
    1. Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place
  9. Ezekiel 22:4, 7
    1. You have brought your judgment days near and have come to your years of punishment [because] father and mother are treated with contempt, and the foreign resident is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you
  10. Zechariah 7:10
    1. Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other!
  11. Malachi 3:5
    1. I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of Hosts
  12. Matthew 25:35-40
    1. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’
  13. Hebrews 13:2
    1. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it
  14. James 1:27
    1. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Y’all, we are far removed from what’s happening on the border and at immigration centers around the nation. But let me tell you that what’s happening is wrong, we have a responsibility to do something about it. Now, I’m going to encourage you to start with something that has gotten a LOT of backlash from political activists in the past few years….I’m going to ask you to pray. Don’t hear me encourage you to respond to the next facebook post with “thoughts and prayers!”….I’m encouraging you to actually get down on your knees, fall on your face, and beg God to come and intervene in the lives of the fathers and mothers that have been separated from their children, pray for the children that are being put into Prison Walmart until something can be decided, pray for the ICE and other agents that have no option but to obey the orders that have been given them, pray for Mr. Sessions who is enforcing and pushing these policies, and pray for President Trump and those in his leadership circle that they would change their policies. For those of you who have started with prayer already and want a next step…here it is: these policies aren’t just being enforced on our southern border, they’re being enforced right here in Ohio. ICE conducted a raid 12 days ago in Castalia and Sandusky, OH that imprisoned over 100 workers, leaving many children (including infants and toddlers) without their parents. Childcare providers are caring for these children right now, but they can use help. One of our sister churches is organizing and donating items to provide for these children. If God is tugging at your heartstring today, please consider donating to this cause, we’ll send whatever money we collect to the church later this week. Church, this is one of those times, one of those moments, that the world is looking at us keenly to see what we’ll do. Are we going to sit still and let Mr. Sessions speak for us and by our inaction signal our compliance, or are we going to stand up and speak the truth that resonates so firmly in us…that we love all people, that we fight for and protect families, and that these practices of our government do NOT reflect Christianity and certainly not us? Let’s pray.

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