David Jeremiah - The Bleeding of Our Borders
I believe that immigration is one of the most important, and yet, at the same time one of the most difficult issues of our day. I am not naive enough to think that I can resolve this controversy in one short message. But it is my hope that I might bring some biblical clarity to help us as followers of Christ to know what to do. Our nation's attitude toward immigrants is eloquently expressed in the words that are engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which you can see from this city if you desire. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door".
America has historically been proud of this history of openness to outsiders. But today, many factors have triggered a change in the thinking of people, and a growing concern. So before we consider some of the problems that we face because of immigration, I want to give you the other side of the story. I want to tell you about some of the great things that happen because we are a nation that welcomes those from other places. Immigrants enhance American culture by bringing new perspectives and experiences into it. Multiculturalism, according to some, increases tolerance for differences, and adds variety to our cultural experience. We love our choices between Mexican, Italian, German, Chinese, or Thai cuisines.
In fact, last night, I had chicken parmesan in an Italian restaurant here in New York. We celebrate a lot of holidays here, like St. Patrick's Day, and Cinco de Mayo, and Yom Kippur, and Ramadan, and the Chinese New Year, and other observances that are brought here by immigrants. Did you know that 75% of those who migrate to this country profess to be Christians when they come across the border? And that's actually 5% higher than the number of American residents who live here. And the faith of many of these immigrants reveals an amazing intensity and sincerity that will compound their effect on America's faith. I know this for a fact because, on occasion, I'm asked to preach to our Hispanic congregation through an interpreter. And I'm always so blessed to be in their worship service. Even though I don't understand the lyrics, I can sense the love they have for the Lord God.
So there's a lot of wonderful things that are happening in America because of all the differences in the peoples that come. We live in a cosmopolitan world. We shouldn't be upset about that. We should rejoice that God has given us that privilege. The potential of immigration is incredible. But let's be honest, this is a series of talks about reality, talks about truth. And not everything about immigration is easy. Not everything about it is positive in the lives of some of us. Working against the immigration advantages are several growing and unsolved problems, and nobody seems to know what to do with them.
First of all, there's problems with legal immigration. The flood of immigration in the past few decades is a major contributor to increasingly high unemployment in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2016, the real unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers no longer looking for jobs, was 9.7%. Another problem that we're facing in our culture today is the failure of some of the ethnic groups who come into our country to integrate into American life. Throughout most of our nation's history, immigrants adopted the language, the laws, and the common customs of the host nation.
The term "melting pot" was a descriptive metaphor indicating that the potentially divisive attitudes and customs of the old country would be left behind as the newcomers blended in to a new commonality of purpose. But today, it seems that the pot is no longer melting. Some incoming groups defy cultural assimilation. They cluster into enclaves and demand special concessions for their ethnic customs, their beliefs, their languages, and in some cases, even their laws. That's just some problems with legal immigration. That's been in place for a long time.
As long as I can remember, it's been legal to come here and file for citizenship, and go through the process, and become American citizens. I've actually gone to some celebrations in San Diego where people have officially become citizens of the USA, and it's a joyous, happy moment. And we party when that happens. But if there are problems with legal immigration, just think of the problems with illegal immigration. According to combined studies conducted by three US government departments, immigrants entering the United States illegally are responsible for an extremely high number of crimes. Another rising problem that we're dealing with regarding illegal immigration is its effect on the social and governmental services which are provided to all Americans.
I remember when I read this, I had to go back and make sure that I was reading the truth because it's so stark. Listen to this little story. In Dallas, Texas, the Parkland Hospital offers the second largest maternity service in the United States. In one recent year, 16,000 babies were born at the Parkland Hospital. And 70% of them were to illegal immigrants at a cost of $70.7 million. And one of the most disturbing aspects of illegal immigration is simply the fact that it's illegal. Somebody said, "The first thing that a person does who comes in here illegally to this country is break the law".
The Apostle Paul was quite emphatic in the New Testament, commanding Christians to obey the government's laws. He explained that God ordained government to keep order and protect citizens. Our national, state, and local governments all have on the books laws that prohibit non-citizens from crossing our borders and living in our communities without proper qualification and legal documentation. Today, those laws are ignored, usually, in the name of compassion. The fact that so many in the United States not only tolerate this, but encourage and defend a practice that works outside of the framework of the law, should trouble all of us.
It is true that without borders, you don't have a country because the people who live within the country are supposed to make the laws that determine who else can live in this country. And we're going all the way away from that in this current climate. So those are just some of the issues that we face. And I'm not here to tell you I've got the answers to all of them. I'm not a political person. I don't want to be a political person. I'm just saying immigration is a big deal, and it's going to continue to be a big deal, and you're going to hear a lot more of it between now and November. It's just what it is. But here's where I'm at, folks. I can't do anything about immigration. That's not what I do. I have no power over that. I have to accept what is.
And I want to take you on a little journey into the past and into the present, and give us all some powerful opportunities and ideas that we can deal with in the midst of the challenges that I've just presented. First of all, I want to tell you a little bit about the past of immigration. Do you know that God's original plan for humanity was for all of us to live together in one family with one common language throughout all the earth? But then this dude named Nimrod got involved. You remember him? So Nimrod, the ruler of the Mesopotamian city of Babel, moved to gain power over all the people of the earth by building this massive tower that would draw everyone to a central location under his control. And it was man's first attempt at a one world government, which, without God, would have brought about almost unlimited tyranny.
So God put a stop to it. He brought a stop to Nimrod's power grab simply by dividing the world's single language into many. And workers could no longer communicate with each other, which abruptly ended tower construction. People scattered throughout the earth, grouping according to their new languages. And you can read all about that in the first verses of Genesis chapter 11. While worldwide unity was God's original intent, the national separateness we experience today is a God-ordained protection against one of the worst effects of the Fall, and that is man's prideful craving for power. The Apostle Paul wrote these words, listen carefully, "And God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and God has determined their preappointed times, and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us".
As Paul explained, God scattered men and set the boundaries of their dwellings so that they would seek after God. God is not a globalist. God is a nationalist. God loves every nation equally. He loves our nation. He has a special place for the nation of Israel, as you know. We don't have favored status with God as Americans. God loves every nation. He has set the boundaries of every nation. And the reason he did it is because if you let someone get in charge of the whole world, you end up with what the antichrist is going to do in the future. And he is a powerbroker, and all of it's over and finished.
Now, having said all of that, that was God's purpose. And because of the sin of man, it got thwarted. Here's the question you have to ask. What do we do with the situation that we've been dealt? Does the Bible speak about immigration? It's in the Old Testament everywhere. And immigrants are called strangers and sojourners. We call them immigrants. God called them strangers and sojourners. The first thing he taught his people was God's people are to assist the stranger. That should be the attitude of every one of us, and that was the attitude in the Old Testament. Listen to these words. "You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger," he said, "because you were a stranger once yourself in the land of Egypt".
God said to his people, "Don't treat strangers badly. Just remember what it was like for you when you were strangers in Egypt". Make sure that you accept the strangers who come among you. After you assist a stranger, then you accept the stranger. Now, don't get lost here and don't think I'm going in the wrong direction. I'll get this all straightened out if you'll just stay with me along the way. God commanded acceptance of foreigners who were willing to adopt his laws. Leviticus says, "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abomination," listen carefully, "either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you".
The Old Testament gives us many examples of foreign-born men and women who were accepted as citizens of Israel. In the New Testament, we do not address immigration directly, but we watch what's going on, and we see Jesus Christ demonstrating attitudes of love and acceptance toward non-Israelites throughout his entire ministry. He met with a Samaritan woman, unheard of in his day. Not only did he speak to her, he engaged her in earnest conversation, and eventually he led many of her friends to faith. And then there was the famous parable of the good Samaritan, where the Lord Jesus did the unthinkable. He made the Samaritan the hero of his story, which, I mean, that just blew the minds of everybody in that day.
Jesus made no distinction among races. He just did not. All were created in God's image. And in these incidents, he demonstrated that we are to love all persons equally, regardless of their ethnicity. Let me just say something. When you're sharing the four spiritual laws with your Hispanic friend, don't make the fifth spiritual law the first one, are you legal or illegal? Don't do that because that really doesn't matter when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ. Get past all of that. Get them to know Christ first, and then you can deal with some of the issues that they're dealing with in their own lives.
The last thing is the thing that we're all struggling with at this particular time, and that is in the Old Testament, they were to assist the stranger, and they were to accept the stranger, but they were also to assimilate the stranger. And this is where it gets difficult. The Scripture makes it clear that when outsiders came into Israel, they were to be treated well. But the flip side of the coin was that strangers and sojourners living among them, if you please, did not have carte blanche to just live any way they wanted to. Leviticus 18:26, "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abomination," now listen to this, "either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you".
In other words, you come into Israel, Israel assists you, they accept you. Now, you have to live under the same law that they live under. Now, you wonder, where's this all going? What's happening? Where's this going to end? Well, let me fast forward for a moment to what's ultimately going to happen. I want to talk with you about the perfection of immigration. Remember, we started in the garden of Eden, and then Nimrod came along and he blew the whole plan? How many of you know that what blows up in Genesis gets fixed in Revelation? Have you ever noticed that? Revelation fixes all the broken things from Genesis. So, if you don't read the whole Bible, you miss the good news. If all you read is Genesis, you're going to be really frustrated. You got to get from Genesis to Revelation because it gets resolved in Revelation.
Satan's successful temptation in Eden dealt a terrible blow to God's creation, bringing not only death, and blight, and pain, but enmity between people. But God will not allow Satan the victory over what he pronounced to be good. And the book of Revelation envisions the end game of the whole immigration issue. Can I read it to you? Listen to what it says. "A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, and tribe, and people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. And they cried out in a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'" One day, this is all going to get resolved, amen? I'm going to be there. Are you going to be there?
And if you read the biblical writings, you know that even before heaven, during the millennium, when the Lord Jesus Christ is running everything on this earth, we're told there will be a restoration of all things, and people will live together in harmony. We are in the midst of an election year, and immigration is at the center of much of the controversy between the candidates. But at the end of the day, immigration reform does not stem from the agenda of the donkey or the elephant. Rather, welcoming the stranger is a conviction that flows from the agenda of the Lamb. It's not the donkey, it's not the elephant, it's the Lamb. That's what the Bible teaches us.
One of the great and unexpected blessings we have in San Diego at Shadow Mountain Community Church is our ministry to the immigrant community, to the migrant community. Let me tell you what's happened. We currently have four international congregations that are a part of our church. They are not individual church. They're a part of Shadow Mountain Church. On the list of new members are people from our main English church and people from all of the international churches that are a part of our congregation. On our board of deacons, we have representation from all of the various ethnic congregations. We currently have these international congregations, and so every Sunday, our campus is buzzing with people from just about every corner of the world. Our Arabic, Filipino, and Iranian congregations gather on Sunday for worship. Can you imagine that?
I think God said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," we've done it so poorly, he said, "Okay, I'll bring the world to you," and that's what he's done, you know? I believe that. As I mentioned to you, in El Cajon, California, we have the largest number of Chaldean citizens living in America. And that's really unbelievable because we only have 100,000 people in El Cajon. We're kind of a village on the east side of San Diego. But out of those 100,000 people now, 25,000 of them are from Iraq. And they're not Muslim, they're Chaldean. They're really Christians from a Catholic perspective. And many of them know the Lord, but many of them don't. And our Hispanic church reaches the Hispanic community, and our Arabic church is now reaching the Chaldean people who live in our community.
If you go downtown in El Cajon now, it's so unbelievable, it's like living in Baghdad. All the signs on the stores are all in Arabic. They're in Arabic and then English underneath. But I want to tell you something, these people need Jesus Christ. And when you share Jesus Christ with them and you embrace them into the greater good of the Shadow Mountain Church, it's just amazing to see what happens. Let me tell you something I've learned, friends. If the gospel that is preached is not good to preach any place in the world, it's not the gospel of God. The gospel of God is the same everywhere. If you have to change it, it's not the gospel.
So, you can preach the gospel. You might have to do it through an interpreter, but when you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether they're Hispanic, or Arabic, or Filipino, or Chinese, or Korean, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and these people come to Christ. Ladies and gentlemen, the problem of immigration is a tough one. I don't have all the answers, but I do know this. The answer is Jesus Christ. He is the answer, and we have the way of sharing that answer. And may God help us to do that. Amen, amen.