Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Immigration and True Freedom

Illegal immigration has always been a difficult issue. President Trump’s decision to fully enforce a policy of separating children from parents who cross the U.S.border illegally while their cases are being heard has become the focus of intense criticism and debate. Each side offers facts to support their view, and emotions are running high – so much so that members of the Trump administration are being singled out by protesters and even refused service at a restaurant.

There is endless debate about this as a legal issue, moral issue, or both. The issue doesn't look like it will be resolved any time soon. Whatever the outcome, the problem highlights some biblical themes.

Every one of us is on earth temporarily. This world is not our final home, and we are all travelers seeking a permanent and eternal residence with the hope of something better. For those who have accepted Christ as Savior, that home is Heaven, which is reached when a believer dies or when Christ returns to take His church to be with Himself. For those who don’t know Christ, the border is closed and there is no entrance.

Proper documents allow immigrants to enter a country legally and afford them the opportunity to make a new life there. Illegal aliens (undocumented immigrants) live with the constant fear of deportation and rarely have the opportunity to make a better life. Likewise, having the proper “paperwork” is the only way to obtain eternal life. Only those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life gain entrance to Heaven and enjoy its benefits forever.

John described the scene that will take place when the official spiritual documents are examined. “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life … there shall be no means enter [heaven] anything that defiles…but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 20:12; 21:27)

When immigrants become U.S. citizens after coming to America, they enjoy the advantages that offers. In Christ, believers are citizens of the heavenly kingdom even before we arrive there. The Apostle Paul wrote of believers, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) Because of this citizenship, believers enjoy benefits in addition to eternal life that are not available to non-citizens including God’s presence (Hebrews 13:5), God’s care (Luke 12:22-31), answered prayer (John 16:23), and, most importantly, permanent citizen status (John 10:28, 29).

For most illegal immigrants, nothing short of amnesty will allow them to stay in the U.S. legally. In His death on the cross, Jesus Christ provided the “amnesty” that allows our permanent residence in Heaven. Forgiveness of the sin that separates us from God is available to any who accept it (Romans 10:13).

While the President, Congress and political pundits debate the pros and cons of immigration legislation, deportation, amnesty, and family reunions, there is no debate on residency status in Heaven. Scripture is quite clear. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (hell, eternal punishment)” (Rev. 20:15).

A person who is truly born again can never be “deported” from God’s kingdom. Christ said, “…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). Accept Christ now so that your eternal home is secure.

Sadly, many who are legal or natural-born citizens of the U.S. think they are free, but they are still trapped in spiritual chains. Without knowing it, their hearts yearn for a freedom that is even more precious – freedom from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31, 32, 36)

Gayle Virkler

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