If you have not read my previous post, please read it here before reading any further.
If you’re not good at reading, try just reading the last part.
Maria is a mother of three (her oldest is 18 years old) and an immigrant of 14 years. She came here from Mexico 14 years ago to help support her mom after her father died. She left her family, the climate, her food and her culture in hopes of finding a job here that would give her enough money to send home. The most difficult thing for her was the language barrier; both the struggle to learn it and the struggle of not understanding anyone. The church did not help at all, the government did not help at all…some people were helpful and helped her learn English, but most people were very hostile. She still feels discrimination, sees families torn apart…her kids (who are American citizens) have less rights than their classmates who are also American citizens. She says that we have “In Case of Emergency” plans for emergencies such as a fire or tornado. Her kids and everyone like them also have an “In Case of Emergency” plan for if the government picks one of them up. She pleads with us to be advocates for those who have no voice. She also pleads with us to seek out the stories of immigrants and find the truth.
After we heard her story, Soctt Hoezee from Calvin Seminary gave a presentation called “For Remember.” I will do my best to summarize, although there was a lot of good stuff said! Hoezee spoke about times in the history of God’s people in which we were aliens, or foreigners in a strange land. Abraham was at home, well-established and comfortable where he was…but God called him to drop everything and leave to go to Egypt, a place in the middle of a famine. He was then exiled from Egypt and was a stranger in a strange land once again. Why did God do this? To be strangers n a strange land runs deep in God’s people, it is part of our identity. Later, Joseph was also a stranger in Egypt.
In Exodus we can read about how the people of God were slaves and treated like scum in the unfamiliar land of Egypt. Again, why did God do this? Maybe a more important question is, “With this experience, how could we do the same thing to others? How could we treat others the way we were treated?” Remember, remember, Abram and Egypt!
Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus both give a list of the ten commandments. The only difference between the versions is that in Deuteronomy 5 is grounds the commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy in remembering slavery.
It says,”Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”
They were to remember their collective past (their past as a people group) when they got to the land given to them by God. They were taken out of horrible conditions of slavery and given this wonderful promised land. In Leviticus they are told to not mistreat aliens, for they were once aliens in Egypt. The benefits of the promised land were to be extended even to aliens. This shows that God has the same desires for His “Chosen people” as the aliens in the land. In God’s eyes, the Israelites are also aliens because of their sin. There is no “us” and “you” because we are all aliens.
Ruth is an example of what happens when God’s people do it right. She was a stranger and a poor widow. But Boaz heeded the commands of God and protected her. He provided safety for her and eventually married her to protect her. In doing this he became a key player and established the line of Jesus (Ruth and Boaz were great grandparents and David, who was also in the line of Jesus). Without Boaz’s loving treatment of Ruth, the genealogy would be completely different and who knows when Jesus would have entered the picture?
In Luke we see that salvation seeks out the least likely. In Luke 16 we find the parable of Lazarus. This is the only parable in which the character has a name. Lazarus was a sick, beggar but Jesus knew his name. In Luke 10, an expert of the law asks Jesus what he must do to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus replies that he must love God and love his neighbor. The expert then asks him what the exact definition of neighbor is…Jesus’ answer is in the form of a parable. This parable of the good Samaritan starts with “A man was going to Jerusalem.” He might as well have said “Some guy.” It could be anybody, it could be everyone. Race, socioeconomic status, etc. does not matter. We love because God loves us.
So…why did God bring salvation the way He did? It teaches us 3 things:
1. We must regard every person as a potential object of God’s love and therefore our love as well. When we see strangers, we should think, “Jesus, is it you again?” Our sin has made us strangers to God –> Salvation emerges from being a stranger.
2. Reasonable laws. Laws now do not equal laws in Bible times. We can argue about immigrant policies, but we should all have similar desires –> to understand each person’s story, to make the immigration process less daunting for immigrants, to make “Gleaning laws,” to lend a hand and to make fair and even convenient structures…
3. Real people have real names and stories. We must move beyond stereotypes. Every person has hopes and dreams and even our enemies are human. We are also taught to guard and advance our neighbor’s good name.
Finally, Hebrews 11:11-16.
Sorry that was so long…I don’t have many of my own thoughts on this, but I did enjoy it immensely and hope you learned from it too. I left some stuff out, but I hope it still made sense to you.