Love the Sojourner

We live in a world that bats around the term “refugee crisis.”

Actually, we batted that around a few months ago and now we’ve moved on to something different.

That’s how we roll.

But what about all the refugees? What about the people whose lives are turned upside down by war, government mandates, religious persecution, violence, disaster, and all of the other unimaginables that my mind can’t quite grasp in my comfortable home in Nebraska?

God’s Word is clear about two matters that we address in this podcast with special guest, missionary Kim Bueltmann:

First, there are those whom God puts in our path that are in need of refuge.

Deuteronomy 10:19 invites us further up and further in to the matter:

 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 

We ourselves are sojourners on this earth. Everything we have, we borrow. What a remarkable thing that God allows us to share what isn’t ours to begin with! As Kim points out, God, as always, brings beauty and light, where Satan would try to only bring destruction. The refugee crisis is no exception.

Second, God invites us in.

Kim reminds us that He is gladly yes, our Rock, our Redeemer, but also our Refuge.

He has also been there. As we round the corner to celebrate the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, we remember all that we have been given and mostly a God who deigns to come to us, as a sojourner, a refugee, a baby in need of a pillow, the Son of God in need of a place to rest his head.

I could make this more complicated. I could give infinite reasons to care for refugees and to reach out our hands in love and in relationship to those who are immigrants, strangers in a scary foreign land, but I won’t. I’ll leave it at God’s Word of Hope:

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

We aren’t left to our own devices to love.

He is God of gods, Lord of lords, great, mighty, and awesome. Let’s see what He can do, in Germany and beyond.

*I believe in this verse so much I made a shirt about it. 😉 The Love the Sojourner shirt will be available until December 22nd, when our Products with a Message line closes. We will gladly be donating the proceeds from these shirts to Kim’s mission work in Leipzig, Germany.

Freedom from heritage: It’s complicated

Whose son or daughter are you?

Consider your answer in the space here for a moment or jot it down in your Bible study notebook.

 

You may be like me and write some names with, “It’s complicated” in the margin. 😉

Your storyline might look slightly simpler, but life is rarely without complication.

Paul accuses the Galatians, at the beginning of Galatians 3, of foolishness, not because of their history, or their life circumstances, but because of their definitions of all of it.

Read Galatians 3:6-9 and look for the answer to this question:

In what did the Judaizers want the Galatians to find their justification, their ground for inclusion in the community of faith?

… just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:6-9)

Abraham, sons of Abraham, along with Abraham…

Abraham was the heritage of the Jews, the father, the great-great-great to beat all great-grandfathers. He represented the seed of faith for them. Without his legacy, I think they felt unmoored, unsure where to turn, unsure what they would point at in order to say, “I’m ok. You’re ok. We’re justified. Safe.”

We can experience this too when we look to our parents, our grandparents, or our heritage for mooring, for identity and certainty. When broken marriages and families are part of our history, we don’t know where to put that. When national oppression, the Crusades, the Holocaust are in the lineup of our family or faith tree, ack, I don’t even know where to put that.

But God does.

Paul helps the Galatians, and even the Judaizers by redefining their heritage. Abraham made sense to them. The line of Abraham has been what they followed for generations. God, through Paul’s pen, offers a new way of defining their heritage in Abraham:

Abraham received the Gospel beforehand.

It wasn’t that Abraham received the law of circumcision that mattered. That wasn’t the heritage that God was passing down for generation to generation. It was that he received the Gospel to pass down from generation to generation.

I am not, and Paul is not, discounting the epic that is the nation of Israel, the people of Israel’s story. It’s that the law of circumcision, the heritage of Israel, is only as useful as what it points to – the Gospel.

This is what Abraham passed down:

And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”  Genesis 15:6-7

This is what Paul points to in Galatians 3:6-7, as well.

God spoke and Abraham believed. It wasn’t his name that mattered to God or where he came from.

God spoke. Abraham believed. Abraham, in all his issues and complications (and there are many – see Genesis 16 or Genesis 20 for just two examples) was credited as righteous because of God’s Word spoken over Him, God’s Word passed down through Him.

Just as complications of families’ lines, heritage, and nationalities are passed down and threaded through our history- the good, the bad, and the ugly – so are God’s work and God’s Word.

God can work outside of us and in spite of us.

I’m complicated, you’re complicated, families are complicated, heritage is complicated.

Isn’t all of life?

There are no easy answers.

Through the Word, the Gospel spoken, Faith works in and around all of the complication.

Freedom doesn’t come dependent on where you came from or who you came from. God’s Word spoken brings freedom to our families. If your family passed that freedom on to you, great! If not, it’s your turn. You are passing on the faith now, in this time, to the next generation. From the time of Abraham, to the Gospels, to the Apostle Paul and the Galatians, and now to us, freedom comes in the Word of Life.

We are opening that Word together, now, as you read. That is a powerful thing. We share it with one another. We share it with the next generation – that is a powerful thing.

No matter what complications come our way or we put into our family line, when we have the Word, share the Word, live in the Word, there is freedom.


Discussion questions:

What complications in your family history can you identify?

What complications in Christian history can you identify? (The not so pretty times, decisions, and pieces of Christianity across time.)

What freedom have you seen God work in the midst of and through the complications?

Love the Sojourner

First of all, this is not a political post.

Second of all, this is a Jesus post.

Neighbors, brothers, sisters, friends, immigrants, refugees….

The truth is, we are all sojourners. We are strangers in a strange land.

Our land never quite feels right. We don’t quite fit in. We don’t know where to put things like loss, heartbreak, hate, anger, fear, doubt, pain, grief, war, shame.

Just like the children of Israel slugging it through slavery in the land of Egypt, we look around, we see sin and its consequences, and we know the truth – we are sojourners traveling through a land briefly. Our home is eternal. Our home is comfort in the arms of our Savior. Our home is the feast to come, the victory of heaven, not the blackening landscape of a home that passes away.

We get glimpses of this land through His Word, His sacraments, and through one another.

For this reason, Deuteronomy 10:19 speaks His Word of direction to us:

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 

God gently reminds Israel and us of all we’ve been given, of the freedom that has been won, of where we have been, of where we are headed, so that when we look in the eyes of our neighbor, we’ll see our own experience as the sojourner far off…the sojourner who was once a stranger to God, welcomed with open arms, by a neighbor named Jesus.

We GET to be part of all of that. We get to be welcomers into the Body of Christ and the kingdom, because we ourselves have been welcomed, not because we have lived in Haiti, or Germany, or Africa but because we have eternity. We have a home with no shame, a new home of grace that will one day be full and complete.

We have been brought out, so that others may be brought in.

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 

Who are these others? Look around you. Who is on the outskirts looking in? Who are those that do not know what we know of grace? We can reach across our lawns and we can reach across our oceans and love, love, and love some more.

God does not limit Himself to what is visible in providing for our needs. There is always more room, more trust, more mercy, more comfort, and more provision in the economy of Christ. Where do we doubt His ability to keep us safe, to provide resources for us, and to give us strength when we look at the sojourner in need?

Just as God answers the fears of the people of Israel proactively, He answers ours in the same Word.

Deuteronomy 10:20-22:

20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.

He is your praise. Look what He has done! Can He who raises the dead provide what we need to love? Why yes, I think He can.

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

A tiny little command, tucked inside a whole lot of promise.

We raise our hands in Praise to Him who can, and simply ask Him to point us in the direction of where to send all the love.

 

Free Love the Sojourner iPhone Wallpaper

Look for the Love the Sojourner line coming out in May 2017, on our Products with a Message page. #surroundme #starttheconversation #productswithamessage