Sermon: June 17, 2018
LESSONS FROM SCRIPTURE WHEN IT COMES TO THE STRANGERS AMONG US:
The Law Is Love (or It Isn’t The Law)
1 Kings 17.8-16: Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth." She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
Matthew 6.31-33: Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Romans 12.9 - 13.1, 8, 9-10: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. . . Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. . . The commandments . . . are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Acts: 5.28_29: "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority."
Leviticus 19.33-34: 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.
Psalm 146.9: The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Hebrews 13.2: Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Leviticus 19.34: You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 24.22: You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God."
Malachi 3.5: "Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
Jeremiah 7.5-7: "For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
Matthew 25.38: And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
Mark 10.13-16: And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."
1 Kings 3.24-27: So the king said, "Bring me a sword," and they brought a sword before the king. The king said, "Divide the living boy in two; then give half to the one, and half to the other." But the woman whose son was alive said to the king—because compassion for her son burned within her—"Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!" The other said, "It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it." Then the king responded: "Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother."
LESSONS FROM SCRIPTURE WHEN IT COMES TO THE STRANGERS AMONG US:
1. Possession of the land in which we live is conditioned upon how we treat sojourners (aliens, migrants, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers). If we’re good to them, God lets us continue to live here. If we’re not good to them, God takes the land from us.
2. We are to understand ourselves always as pilgrims (just another word for illegal immigrant) and understanding ourselves as pilgrims is to shape how we treat other pilgrims in this life.
3. God will judge us as lacking fear of the Lord himself if we "thrust aside" the foreigners among us.
4. We are to have the same rules for immigrants as we have for ourselves.
5. Hospitality is probably the most-often repeated mark of the true person of faith in all of scripture. Hospitality to those in need of it is a command as sure, true and certain as having no other gods.
6. We are to obey human laws so long as those laws do not conflict with the laws of God.
7. The law of love is the law by which all other laws (of God and of humanity) are to be understood and interpreted. If what we’re doing does not accord with the law of love unto others, it is not of God.
8. Even if the stranger among us turn out to be enemies, we are to feed them and provide for them.
9. We are to share out of what we have – not out of what we’re afraid we won’t have tomorrow, but out of what we actually do have today.
10. What we do for others and to others we literally are doing for God and to God.
11. Never put anything between children and God or between a child and its loving parent, who will sacrifice everything for that child.