January 15, 2018
We are hearing a lot these days from politicians and the media about “immigration reform.” Some see this controversy as a struggle between the political parties, while others view it as a matter of conscience and morality. Some sociologists see the controversy in the light of class warfare and economics, while others see the issue to be more related to national security. But, exactly what are politicians talking about when they accuse their opposition of using immigration for political gain? In my view the answer to that question is basically that the manipulation of the immigration system is a means by which both sides hope to achieve power, either politically, socially or economically. Christians around the world both benefit and are oppressed by the immigration policies and restrictions placed on them by the sovereign governments of the world. As far as I can tell the Bible does not say anything specifically about a nations policy on immigration. However, it was God who at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 who scattered the people of the earth by confounding their languages which resulted in the formation of the nations. Also, the Bible does talk about the authority of national governments in Romans 13:1. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” It makes sense that if God established the idea of the world being divided into independent nations, then the establishment of boundaries by those nations logically falls into that authority as well. Whatever their motivation for border control and immigration policies, it is clear that the nations of the world have the authority to establish them.
The book of Ruth in the Bible is essentially a story of a Gentile, Ruth, who left her home country with her mother in law, and immigrated to Judah, a Jewish nation where she was an illegal immigrant. Her story is primarily about the kindness of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer, who offered her safety, employment, and ultimately gave her legal status by marrying her. In this story we see both sides of the immigration debate. On the one hand a nation had its own rules regarding immigrants, which included a path to legal citizenship. We also see the compassion of someone who saw the need of someone in the country illegally but provided for her basic needs and ultimately assisted her to a legal status within the laws of his country.
But there is a warfare going on in this world today that we should be more concerned about than the battle over “immigration reform.” Every one of us is involved daily in “spiritual warfare.” The good news is that we know who the enemy is and we can be prepared for the attacks that will come from our spiritual enemy. Unfortunately, God’s church sometimes forgets who the enemy is and how to prepare for his attacks. Paul gives the church instructions in Ephesians 4:1-3. “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” In our daily encounters of life, it is not easy to live out those words. Think of just a few things that make it difficult for us to be humble, gentle, and patient? (traffic; lack of time; lack of money; health problems; moody kids; demanding boss; multitasking; cell phones; rude people; slow-moving lines; endless tweets). And yet, what is the most dangerous, yet often overlooked reason Christians find it difficult to walk worthy of their calling? It is the often unseen spiritual warfare that takes place within the lives of people. The reason spiritual warfare is more than just normal life struggles, is because it is a battle of supernatural proportions that requires supernatural strength to win.
The world wants us to believe that Satan is a myth and our problems are with people. But the Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Our instructions are to “Put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” These instructions indicate a real enemy who wants to destroy our lives and steal our peace and security. Paul’s words indicate that as a believer spiritual warfare is not just a possibility, we are already in the fight every day, and must arm ourselves with the armor of God or we will be wounded.
The battle over immigration reform will one day become back page news, and another issue will make it somewhat insignificant, but the spiritual warfare which takes place in our lives, must be acknowledged daily. Paul’s instructions are to arm ourselves for a daily battle against evil, which is a real threat that must be opposed. We also can be comforted in knowing that here is no need for panic or anxiety, because we already know that the final outcome of this spiritual war is that God wins and Satan loses. As the children of God, our kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ, has paid the price for our redemption and our legal home is in heaven with Him for eternity. Glory to God!