Taking care of foreigners
I happen to believe that taking care of foreigners is a Gospel issue.
Why do I believe that?
Some do and some don’t, but I consider the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) a part of Christian scripture. I believe you can see the Good News–the Gospel–at work even in Genesis when God declares Creation good. God created a world where he wanted to spend time in perfect relationship with people–the end result of the Gospel–but over time people began rejecting this. We see the start of this in stories about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah, all a part of the Christian story.
There’s also a major false teaching that pervades our thinking today known as Marcionism. It’s the idea that the Jesus of the New Testament isn’t the God of the Old Testament. The early church had to correct this false teaching and we still have to correct it today. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament and he had much to say to a chosen people about foreigners living in their land. I believe you can discover the heart of Jesus who is love and justice oriented, even in the moments of wrath you see in the Hebrew scriptures–this being the reason some do not want to believe Jesus is the God of the Old Testament.
Jesus (God) in Hebrew scripture, very clearly has a heart for peaceful foreigners, for the oppressed, for the poor, for the forgotten, and for many others that don’t have the opportunities that a man like myself does. The very notion that I’m sitting on a laptop, writing this blog post, is an incredible blessing compared to those whose daily reality is war, starvation, and deadly disease. As far as I can tell, Christ’s heart for the foreigner didn’t change when the new covenant was established. His heart revealed in Hebrew scriptures towards foreigners and the poor reflects the very nature of the Gospel itself described in Luke 4:18–19.
What follows are a fragment of Hebrew scripture that I believe paints a beautiful image of Jesus and his heart towards peaceful foreigners and the poor. May our hearts be like that of Christ.
You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
–Exodus 23:9 NLT
It is the same with your grape crop — do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.
–Leviticus 19:10 NLT
Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
–Leviticus 19:33–34 NLT
When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.
–Leviticus 23:22 NLT
If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you.
–Leviticus 25:35 NLT
The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows,
but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
–Psalm 146:9 NLT