Written by Prof. Joe Lau / January 2016
The topic of immigration is all over the news these days. With all the turmoil in the Middle East, thousands are seeking new homes in Europe, a place of refuge from the chaos and violence of their homelands. Closer to home, election year presidential candidates are busy formulating plans as to how to deal with illegal immigrants entering the United States. How does one balance humanitarian concerns with with limited resources and threats to national security? No single solution seems to be able to address satisfactorily all the inherent problems. One can certainly sympathize with those seeking a safer and brighter future for their children, while at the same time frown at the potential negative consequences if illegal immigration is not held in check.
Since the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden by our first ancestors, we have been inhabiting a world that God never intended. Had humans not sinned, everyone would be perfectly content and safe. Because of sin, people long for a world where hunger, war, disease, and poverty do not exist. They are willing to take drastic measures to improve their earthly conditions, even if it means leaving all behind.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3)
In a spiritual sense, all Christians are immigrants here on earth, regardless of our country of origin. We too are affected by the consequences of sin. However, our hope for a better future is based on the surety of heaven as our true home. We are migrants here only for a short time. The hope for our future is not based on the efforts of earthly governments (although often well-intentioned) humanitarian organizations, or the inherent “goodness” of the human race. Our hope is built on the sure word of God. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelations 21:4). Jesus Himself said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
What do we do in the meantime? Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to visit many congregations of the CLC. In a way, I like to see them as refugee camps, some small, some larger, dotting the landscape throughout the world. These are places where migrant Christians from all walks of life go to receive spiritual shelter, encouragement, and the Bread of Life. These refugees remain “in the world” for the time being, but are not “of the world,” biding their time as they await their true homecoming in heaven.
What though the tempest rage,
Short is my pilgrimage,
And time’s wild wintry blast
Soon shall be overpast;
I shall reach home at last,
Heaven is my home.
TLH 660 v.2