Sanctuary

We all have or had a special spot that you call a safe spot. Safe spots are a part of our lives even if we don’t give it any thought.  Let me give you some examples:

  • Kids that are in trouble have safe spots at school and in their neighborhood;
  • Abused women have shelters where information is kept confidential to protect the women;
  • Prisoners are placed in protective custody (In Canada they refer to this as Kiddie corner) or solitary to protect prisoners;

This leads us to a news story that I came across. A young male comes to a small town a dozen years ago who has worked and built a family here. Now he is about to be deported after all options to stay has been exhausted. In a last-ditch effort, he took refuge in a church. (Details have been changed / or deleted to protect those involved).The ending of this story is that while the legal minds are trying to work their magic, this church is providing a refuge for this young man. They are basing this on the following phrase:

“Jesus says that when someone comes to us in need, we are to treat him as Jesus himself,”

The story does go on with the Pastor saying that the above quote comes from the book of Matthew. So, I have searched and can’t find any reference to this statement in the bible.I feel however that a closer statement comes from the book of Hebrews, chapter thirteen, verse 16:

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”, Hebrews 13:16

So first, we want to make sure we don’t take things for granted as stated in 1 Peter 4:7.

We are too make sure that we work hard with no slacking to ensure the better good as quoted to us from Romans 13:8.

We are to share with others. This comes from the Bible, Book of Luke 3:11.

So, we are to make sure we do not take things for granted, work hard to ensure the better good, while we share with others. But this begs the question to be answered:

“Should a church who has won separation from the State be afforded the right to harbor deportees while at the same time disobeying God’s word?”

First, Churches do not have legal protection to harbor deportees. The immigration Department US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it generally avoids arrests at “sensitive locations,” including places of worship. The policy doesn’t rule out enforcement there in certain circumstances, such as when a supervisor approves the move, or in instances relating to national security, terrorism or public safety. ICE says the policy is meant to ensure that people can participate in activities and seek services at sensitive places like churches without hesitation. The policy doesn’t particularly say anything about allowing people to stay at sensitive places full time as a shield against arrest. In general, prosecutors probably won’t go after a pastor, “though certainly the law permits that,” said Leon Fresco, a former assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation.

Yes, one of the most important freedoms granted to us is the Freedom of Religion but there is nowhere in this where it gives the church the right to provide deportees. The First Amendment states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”

  1. However, God does command us regarding the Church and the State as outlined in Mark 12:17. This tells us three things:
  2. God is above Earthly Authority no matter what;
  3. God is due our bodies, time and possessions;

However, offering sanctuary to deportees is an offence against Earthly Authority; But God further commands us in Romans 13:1-7 about subjecting to authority.

First, there is no other authority other than God.

All authority on earth that does exists is because of God as Matthew 28:18 tells us.

Earthly rulers are not a bothersome to the good but after the bad as testified in 1 Peter 2:13-15.

Earthly Rulers are here for four reasons:

  1. Paul shows us that we are to live in peace and love each other. Paul instructs us how we are to respect and obey authority and those that don’t also don’t respect and obey God. We are commanded this in John 13:34-35.
  2.  It also shows that the earthly authority is to protect the law-abiding citizens and punish the non-law-abiding citizens.
  3. We should subject ourselves to earthly Authority for fear of being punished for doing wrong but we should also fear God
  4. Paying taxes and showing proper respect to Earthly Authority. Check out 22:17-21.

As you can see Paul is promoting submission to our Lord. So, before you can get right with Earthly Authority, you must get right with God. Your relationship with God sets the basis for submitting to Earthly Authority. So back to our story we started with. So, does the Church misinterprets their authority or are they trying to take a stand to try and change the authority? So currently there are approximately thirty-six (36) churches that are offering sanctuary to persons Immigration Enforcement are trying to arrest or deport. So, if the churches can offer sanctuary to deportees, then why not let them offer sanctuary to fugitives as well.

If we remove Earthly Authority, we have no God Authority.

 

 

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