A Higher Order
With so many rushing quickly to the front-lines, we wanted to let the dust to settle a bit. We've witnessed a multitude of voices on either side, some demonstrating concerning levels of ignorance and some with valid points worth considering.
But we aren't here to present a political opinion. We are appealing to a higher order—one that must be permitted to inform and influence a real human response to the groaning of all creation.
The Biblical Position
"The Bible is not the light of the world, it is the light of the Church. But the world does not read the Bible, the world reads Christians! 'You are the light of the world.'" - Charles H. Spurgeon
A constant challenge for the Christ-follower is to allow the Biblical position to directly effect every aspect our lives, including our political position.
Ghandi is well known for the statement, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." But is it actually possible to be a Christian without any resemblance to Christ? Is it possible to live a "Christian life" apart from Scripture as the light by which we walk?
"That in everything he might be preeminent..."
Asked directly, are we allowing Jesus to be Lord over our political position? This is a critical question because, in the most elevated sense, "Jesus is Lord" is the center of Christian faith. Anything less means we have fashioned a god of our own imagining, subject to our own idealism and desires. "Jesus is Lord" means that even our own sense of nationalism must be subject to His higher power.
A Third Kingdom
Joshua could see the mighty city of Jericho from where he stood. Battle was imminent. He looked up and saw a mighty warrior, sword-in-hand, standing before him.
“Are you for us or for our enemies?” Joshua asked.
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Much like Joshua, people in Jesus' day wondered which kingdom he stood for. "Are you pro 'empire' or for the restoration of Israel? Are you a Roman sympathizer or a zealot?" Today, perhaps we would ask Jesus if he were "conservative" or "liberal." But He doesn't back himself into our controlling little corners. He responds, "My kingdom is not of this world." Jesus represents a third kingdom—a radically different way—a divine foolishness wiser than the ways of men.
Neighbors In The Kingdom
So what does a response to the "foreigner" look like in the "third kingdom?" Both the Old and New Testament are consistent in their directives.
In the Old Testament:
Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
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. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
In the New Testament:
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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:25-36)
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)
He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:29-37)
If we are to take Scripture at face value, allowing it to inform and influence our response to the world...
- How are we to live as followers of Christ?
- How are we to treat our "neighbor" as defined by Jesus himself?
- How are we to relate to the "foreigner" as citizens of the "third kingdom?"
"We cannot influence a world we refuse to touch." - Nate Edwardson
The way of Jesus is incarnation. This means he "became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood." He laid down every entitlement, emptied himself, and took the form of a servant. As a follower of Jesus, what does imitation of this way look like? Begin to consider what the implications are for how you will show tangible selfless love toward your "neighbor."
Here are two simple steps to help you get started:
- Volunteer with an organization like Bethany Christian Services. They have a strong and trusted presence throughout the globe and have been highly effective here in Allentown, Bethlehem, and the Lehigh Valley.
- As you volunteer, don't just clock in and out. Go deeper, looking for opportunities to build relationships with the families served. Nothing destroys judgments and preconceived notions quite like friendship.
Our Church's Position
At L24 Collective, we are committed to showing love and hospitality to our neighbors. We will not turn a blind eye to the plight of the foreigner among us. We will not be willfully ignorant of the orphans' and widows' plight, whether they be "legal" or "illegal," and we will work to bring peace and safety to those who've lost home and country.
In our actions, we do not stake a claim in the kingdoms of this world. We are neither "conservative" nor "liberal." We are a people who will allow the Lordship of Christ and the light of Scripture to direct us, walking a narrow path often appearing foolish in the eyes of the "either/or" kingdoms' citizens.
Our mission, in alignment with Christ's, is the reconciliation of all things back to the Father. This is what we will gladly lay down our lives for. This is the purpose of Christ's church. This is who we are—those called out from the world to live as Jesus lived and to love as He loved.