Go for the Alien

*Immigrant family statue, by Tom Otterness.

So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

An old Southern spiritual reminds us “this world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.” Indeed, we are citizens of heaven; we are pilgrims and foreigners in this land. It could be said that we all have an immigrant story because our family histories have us coming from elsewhere. In this way, we can relate to the new immigrants on our street, in our school or at our workplace; we have a story to trade with them.

If we read the Scriptures through the eyes of an immigrant, we see how there were laws and provisions for the foreigners, aliens and the strangers who found themselves amongst the people of God. During harvest time, for example, the instruction was to leave some grain for the foreigner or stranger in their midst.

Jesus carried on this value of paying attention to people on the edge, on the fringe, the neglected ones of society. An example is how he engaged with Samaritans. The letters of Paul instruct the Church to use gifts of hospitality to link with and engage the outsider, the alien, the stranger, the foreigner in our midst.

With 200 million people migrating today, Scripture brings fresh impetus to our lives as Canadian Christians. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the foreigner, the new immigrant, the stranger or outsider whom he puts in your pathway. Ask him to help you take the first step towards them as Jesus would likely do.

1. Ask God to open your eyes this week to notice strangers, and to say an affirming word to foreigners you encounter today.
2. To which immigrant individual or family can I show hospitality in the next three months?

Ron Brown is a missions coach based in Calgary. He has held several positions with the C&MA, including 26 years as a missionary in Africa. His 2014 memoir, Intersections, can be found at ronaldbrown.ca.

5 comments on “Go for the Alien

  1. I’ve been a foreigner before, and it can feel very tough, lonely, and isolating. The kindness of the local people and the invitations that they extended to me, inviting me into their homes and lives, made a world of difference. Thanks for this reminder!

  2. The timing of this devotional could not have been more appropriate as I reflect on the numerous number of newcomers in our midst who are frowned upon here in Canada. That being said, there are also many Canadians who go out of their way to be friendly and polite to new Canadians, yet when we reflect on our everyday interactions, we will discover a hidden racism that exists as a result of our Canadian enculturation.
    How often in the past have you agreed with someone or even said yourself: “I am not a racist but…” and then go on to say things like “we need to keep out the ‘queue-jumpers’ who have come here to live off the government or take away jobs from ‘real’ Canadians” or “they need to learn to speak our language if they are going to come here.” I am a Canadian, and therefore at some point in my life, I admit that I have agreed with and even said those things myself.
    It wasn’t until I began to build relationships with the foreigners in my midst that I encountered my own hidden racism and experienced a heart transformation. I began to see foreigners in a new light and through the eyes of Christ, the spirit empowered me to join God’s mission to recognize that US=THEM.

  3. I agree that we need to open our hearts and friendship to foreigners with whom we come in contact. But, by being openly helpful to people who are in our country illegally, with a fake I.D., working under a name that is not legally their own, aren’t we just enabling them to continue in that falsehood? When we go to their countries, we do everything according to their laws. Should we expect less from them? If I just want what is good for my family, does that mean that I can go into the local grocery store and illegally take items off the shelf, tuck them under my belt, and take them home to my hungry family? Where should we draw the line? What can we do to encourage our illegal friends to become legal citizens? Our main objective should be to present the Gospel to them. But, once they accept Christ, why do they not want to jump the hoops and become legal citizens? Do we show real Godly love by just smiling and waving them on? Come on! I need some good answers!

  4. Can I humbly suggest that we look to Jesus as the model for how to respond? With a Christ-centred perspective, we can find a couple of examples of when Jesus had opportunity and justification to extend judgement against those who were in violation of the law, and yet He instead chose the path of grace (John 8:1-11,4:7-42) . Take for example the woman at the well (not only an adulterous woman, but in fact a Samaritan; a ‘foreigner’ belonging to a highly despised religeous group). Jesus had every religious and legal right to avoid her and yet He approaches her and even enters into dialog with her. He was willing to go against the expected cultural responses of the day to offer her grace and share the good news. Jesus does not avoid her, nor does He feel the need to judge her. He instead openly affirms her honesty when she says she has no husband, and acknowledges that He knows how she has been living. The amazing thing to take notice of is that he still does not condemn her! His primary motive in this interaction was to extend grace and reveal the Messiah to her.
    I think it is right and good to follow Jesus’ example here as we interact with newcomers because the principle message is transferable. We can choose to offer grace and acceptance (even if we sharply disagree with an unlawful way of living) since our primary motive is to be like Jesus who is actively engaged in God’s mission. As such, we too are to extend grace and introduce people to the Messiah. Let us not confuse acceptance with agreement however, but instead allow the Spirit of God to take on the work of conviction. In this way, we are free to extend His grace and openly demonstrate the love of Christ in contrast to a society that sits in judgement and condemnation. In John 4:28-42, you’ll notice that because of this unexpected grace encounter with Christ, the woman went away to tell others about who she had met and “many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”

  5. Pingback: 40 Day Devotional 2017- Day 7 | 40 Days of Faith and Hope in Action

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