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Image credit: Sarah Melnyk, Church World Service

Jesus’ View of Immigration: Revelation 3:20

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Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Revelation 3:20

The Scripture tells us, that contrary to what regressives think (they call themselves “progressives,” but they’re not – they’re dragging us backward), borders are not man’s idea but God’s. In Acts 17:26, we are told that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined…the boundaries of their dwelling place.” (Emphasis mine throughout.) Boundaries between nations may change shape through settlement, purchase, or war, but God’s sovereignty over human affairs is directing it all.

And God’s men respected these God-ordained boundaries. When Moses was leading his people through the wilderness toward the Promised Land, he came to the “edge of (the) territory” of Edom and sought passage (Numbers 20:16). He even made a play for sympathy and compassion: “You know all the hardship we have met…how the Egyptians dealt harshly with us…” (Numbers 20:15).

His request was polite. “Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from a well…we will not turn aside until we have passed through your territory” (Numbers 20:17). In other words, we will not be a drain on your resources in any way. We are not going to expect charity or welfare when we come in.

But Edom was intransigent. “You shall not pass through…you shall not pass through…Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory” (Numbers 20:182021).

Now Moses had taken his people into battle against the Amalekites, a stronger and mightier people than Edom, and had prevailed. So he wasn’t afraid to take Edom on.

Did Moses decide to barge on in? To rail at the heartlessness and cruelty of the king of Edom? No. Instead, he set an example for would-be immigrants all through history, including would-be immigrants at our southern border today. “Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel turned away from him.” Moses took the long way around rather than launch a border confrontation.

When I quoted the very familiar verse, Revelation 3:20, at the head of this column, readers may have wondered what in the world it has to do with immigration. I suggest it has everything to do with it. In fact, everything we need to know about immigration we can learn from this verse.

First, we learn that Jesus respects boundaries. He acknowledges that there is a boundary, a border if you will, that stands between him and a man’s life. The threshold represents a perimeter that has a sacred significance. Not even the King of Glory will violate that border.

Second, we learn that Jesus will not cross a legitimate boundary, or border, on his own. Although He can, He doesn’t power his way through that door, he doesn’t jimmy the lock, he doesn’t come in through the backyard, he doesn’t sneak in through a window, he doesn’t command that the door open for him. No, he goes to the front door and knocks.

In other words, Jesus will not cross a legitimate boundary, or border, without permission. Whoever is on the other side of that door has sovereign authority over who comes through it, and Jesus respects his right to grant or withhold the right of entry. Jesus clearly wants to come in, He seeks permission to come in, but He will not enter until invited. “If anyone…opens the door, I will come in…”

And so, in the Spirit of Christ, we as Americans are perfectly willing to invite into our society those who enter through the front door and become legal immigrants. We do that 1.6 million times a year. Our immigration policy is the most open-handed, open-hearted policy on earth. All we ask is for immigrants to imitate the example of Jesus, to stand at the door and knock and wait to be invited in.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Revelation 3:20



 

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