Immigration and the Christian: The Balance of the Welcome and the Wall


The Bible has "Welcome" written in it to the alien and sojourner in our land but also "Walls" built in it too. Todd shows us from Scripture how our nation's Border control issues can be handled from a Biblical perspective.

Todd WagnerNov 16, 2014Micah 06:08; Leviticus 19:33-34; Psalms 37:4; Proverbs 22:2; Micah 6:8; Proverbs 13:13; Philippians 4:9; Exodus 22:21; John 13:34-35; Galatians 5:22; Proverbs 14:21; James 2:1-4

I like to tell folks that my great desire in life is to be known as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mystery of God. What I've been doing over the last couple of weeks is declaring to you that God is the one who is the author and giver of life. He can't offer it to you anywhere apart from him because it doesn't exist apart from him.

True liberty is not found in being able to do whatever you want to do but in the freedom to be able to be who you want to be, a noble, virtuous, righteous person, not somebody who can do what they want for a moment until the harvest of what you've sown returns in your life and it doesn't go well with you. That's how we get to the last one.

God wants you to be able to pursue happiness, to live the blessed life. He wants you to be able to live in a way that others would say to you, "May God multiply your kind," and that you might look forward to the future because you know that what you're sowing is going to lead to blessing, restored relationship, success, and prosperity, biblically defined. Not riches in hell but righteousness and honor.

It is a fact that if you sow a thought you'll reap an action. If you sow an action you will reap a habit. If you sow a habit you'll reap a character. If you sow a character you will reap a destiny. God wants your destiny to be one of happiness. That's why he instructs you as a loving Father, and he desires it to go well with you. We've talked about what happens when a nation tinkers with the divine formula, and it then does not become a nation that is headed toward future prosperity but is headed toward future judgment.

When you take a government that is supposed to prosecute those who do wrong and praise those who do right, and you flip it, and it begins to prosecute those who speak up for righteousness and praise those who do wrong, you have a land that is headed toward sorrow, and God doesn't want that. God's design was that all of the nations of the earth would be blessed through the revelation of who he was. It wasn't just for the Jews, and it's not just for America.

His design is that all of the nations of the earth would be blessed. We have a great message, and we can invite as many people as we want to respond to the message. It won't burden the system. It will bring blessing to the land. So today I'm going to talk about what to do when you live in a land that maybe others want to come into. How do you handle the sojourner, the alien, the immigrant among you?

I'm going to make a case that God's Word has given us everything we need not just on this topic but on every topic. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and it alone is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God might be adequate and equipped for every good work. But not just the man of God…the people who gather underneath the law of the Lord humbly.

Let me just say this as we begin today. If you forget everything else I say and you want to know, "What does God want from me related to marriage, related to the economy, related to immigration, related to how I view life, to what a land should look like?" just remember this one verse: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

In other words, you live underneath his revelation because you believe your ways are not his ways and his thoughts are higher above your thoughts as the heavens are above the earth, and that all of his ways are righteous and true and the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether, as it says in Psalm 19; that God's way is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, and we would be wise to pay attention to it.

But when you start talking about things like immigration, you go, "Okay, Todd. I'm all about justice, and I want justice, and I love kindness. Therefore, how could we ever turn somebody away? How could we not embrace everybody and anybody all the time?" Well, you need to know this about kindness.

Kindness is never supposed to be isolated to just half of the people. We cannot be kind to people in America and say, "Sorry, you're not in, so we're not going to be kind to you," and you cannot be kind to the alien or the immigrant at the expense of those who are already here. True justice cares for both…the resident, the native, and the sojourner and alien.

A number of weeks ago, when we had a crisis at our border because a lot of women and children specifically were making their way up from Honduras, Central America, and other countries down there through Mexico, arriving at our borders and seeking asylum or relief or just status in our country, there was a lot of debate about what we should do.

So what I did is I put a few cursory notes out there, that you might begin to have some perspective, informed by God's Word, about how to respond to that, because I really have a double task today. I have a responsibility to help you, as an individual, think through, "What do I do as a believer, as somebody who knows God and loves God, when I personally come across an immigrant, anybody in my path? How do I treat them when I encounter them personally?"

I want to answer that question for you today, but I have another responsibility toward you, because we are citizens of a land, and we're supposed to seek the welfare of the city we're in. We have a nation that is a government of the people by the people for the people, so you have a responsibility to figure out, "What is my appropriate attitude toward government policy as it relates to immigration?"

You might go, "What in the world are we doing talking about that at church?" I would tell you we'd better talk about it at church, because the church ought to be the most enlightened citizens in a country because they're not making up their own ideas. When churches make up their own ideas, they're just as worthless as any other person's ideas if they are inconsistent with God's Word and a right understanding of his Word.

We're not just told to preach the Word. We're told to rightly divide the Word of truth as workmen who won't need to be ashamed because we've jerked things out of context and made the Word say things it wasn't ever supposed to mean. So we're going to learn something today. Let me just share with you the five principles I put out that will guide this.

1._ Rule of law is essential to a healthy community_. If you get a group of people together and there is no law, no common understanding, you will have chaos. Chaos always cries for order, and if the only order you can get is from a tyrant, you'll take it. That's why people will accept martial law and forgo their freedoms, because the freedom that is in the land is not ordered liberty and ordered freedom, and there's so much chaos we'll do anything, even lose our own liberty, in order to get a little bit of stability.

The Bible says in Proverbs 13:13, "The one who despises the word will be in debt to it…" When you have a land that despises the revelation of God and rules by its own understanding, if the understanding of the day is there is no righteousness, there is no truth, there's just relativism everywhere and your ideas aren't better than mine, you're going to have a society that quickly leads to chaos. "…but the one who fears the [declaration] commandment [of the Lord] will be rewarded."

First Timothy 1:8 says, "But we know that the Law is good…" So the law is good. The rule of law is essential to healthy community. Our founders understood that, which is why we believe in what's called lex rex and not rex lex. Rex is the word for king; lex is the word for law. In a monarchy, the king is the law, and that is contrary to the Judeo-Christian ethic. We believe in lex rex. We believe the law is king. Our executive branch is not king. Our legislative branch is not king. Our Constitution is king.

We believe in ordered liberty. Our judicial branch is to make sure we make laws and approve laws that are consistent with the law that is grander and greater than any of us or any current individual in Congress, in the executive branch, and as it was supposed to be, not legislating from the judicial bench, because it also knew we needed checks and balances, because in our Constitution we had a fundamental understanding of the depravity of man and that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We understood that law was good and God's law was the best. The Judeo-Christian law and understanding is what formed our country. It's why we have in the second sentence of our Declaration of Independence a statement of dependence. It's in the preamble. You know it. We say, "We hold these truths to be self-evident…" We don't even need to talk about them. Everybody knows it's absolutely right and true.

First among them, "…that all men are created equal…" That means the native and that means the sojourner. We're equal. We're not better than anybody else, and we shouldn't treat people like we're better than them. It is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal. All of us are equal, and we're not valuable because we have some utilitarian benefit to society.

Nine out of 10 kids born with Down syndrome are executed because we don't believe they have any intrinsic value. We believe they have value because they're created in the image of God, so we love them and care for them and serve them, even though there is absolutely inside of them some chromosomal disorder. There is inside of me another kind of disorder, and I'm glad I'm not rejected because of it.

My disorder is one that leads to death, not in the womb, like we do the Down syndrome child, but death in relationship to a holy God. He has loved me and pursued me and given me value…so much that he gave his Son for me. We ought to give ourselves to every human because they're created equal. We believe that truth is self-evident.

We also say that all men "…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…" Then what do we say? "…among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Where do you think we got that? We got that from God's Word, because that's what God wants. Government's job, when you take a look at it, is to be the punishment of evildoers and give praise to those who do right. That's straight out of 1 Peter 2:14. Romans 13:1-7 talks about it.

But you need to know this. You don't say, "Come one, come all. It doesn't matter what you think or what you believe or what you do." We believe there is a rule of law. I want to say this about the Bible. The Bible addresses issues of our day. The idea that there are borders and boundaries is not a new idea. It didn't start with the United Nations or the League of Nations before that. It didn't start centuries before when we started to draw battle lines and to have more developed economies and civilized states.

You go all the way back to the book of Genesis with the patriarchs, with Abraham, when God calls him out of Mesopotamia and pulls him from what's modern-day Iraq back over toward Palestine. You'll find out that Abraham was called a sojourner or an alien, and when he got to a land he sought permission. He adopted the social standards. He did not adopt their morality, but he adopted social propriety and legal propriety, even as he understood God.

When he went down to Egypt he asked permission to be there, and when they found out he was a liar they ran him out. Remember that? That happened again. Same thing with Isaac. When the land had somebody who was a liar, they ran him out. So there were borders even back in the nomadic days, and God shows you how you are supposed to handle entering into another person's property, and he shows you what you are to do if somebody is traveling through your land or if somebody becomes a resident alien. He separates those two. But there is to be a rule of law, and it is a good thing, and it brings blessing.

2._ The rule of love is essential if any place is going to be representative of Christ's community_. So the rule of law is good, but the rule of love is essential. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that [this community is different] …"

It is a divinely inspired community. We are to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We don't just move in and move out when it's convenient for us. We walk worthy of the manner with which we've been called, Ephesians says, with humility and gentleness, showing forbearance to one another in honor. We give deference to one another in honor.

We have a biblical understanding of love, which means we are patient, we are kind, we don't boast, we're not arrogant, we don't act unbecomingly, we don't seek our own, we don't take into account a wrong suffered, we're not provoked, we don't rejoice in unrighteousness, if we have biblical love; we rejoice always in the truth, because we know law is good. We bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. We have a love that never fails.

That's why when people come into my office who are engaged and they have that silly, starstruck look in their eyes and they go, "Man, you have to marry us so we can be legal, because we are in love," I look at them and go, "All right. I know what you have is a wave of emotion…" Because if you're single and you define love, love is such a perverted word. Many people think love is that feeling you feel when you feel like you've never felt before. That is not love. That's a feeling you feel when you feel like you've never felt before, and you won't feel like that always.

So if you hit the "eject" button once you don't feel that way anymore, because you brush up against some girl at the office and a bunch of static electricity makes the hair on the back of your head stand up and you go, "Oh my god! That's love, not what I'm going home to," then you have a love just like the world, and that's not the love I'm talking about when I say the rule of love is what will mark us as Christ's community. We stay here and we're committed.

We don't just have this starstruck, spring-break romance. We have an abiding, selfless love. We cherish, we honor, we nourish, we swear to our own hurt. We don't seek our own, and we aren't people who love one over others. That's a perverted view of love. Love is not doing for somebody what they want done. You need to understand this. The rule of law is essential, but the rule of love is what absolutely must be there if we're going to be known as Christ's people.

3._ The rule of law is never compromised by the rule of love_. The two are not mutually exclusive. We serve a God who is full of grace and full of truth, and if we are his people, we are truthful sometimes and gracious sometimes. That's exactly what we see in James, chapter 1, when it talks about the visible image of the invisible God. When we saw Jesus… It says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as the only begotten of the Father."

What is that glory like? It's full of grace and full of truth. That means Jesus wasn't 50 percent grace and 50 percent truth. It means the Father is not 50 percent kindness and 50 percent justice. He is 100 percent justice and 100 percent kindness, and the two are never mutually exclusive from one another. That's why when you form an immigration policy you can't say, "Well, it's going to be really loving if we bring them in," if bringing them in is not loving to others.

Now this is a delicate balance, and you have to go, "How do I address kindness to the native while also being kind to the sojourner?" There is a way. It's not easy, but you must make sure you don't have some perverted and distorted view. This is, by the way, how God revealed himself in Exodus 34:6-7 when he said, "Moses, come here. Check me out." He said, "All right. I'll check you out. What are you like?"

He said, "This is what I'm like. I'm the Lord. I'm the Lord God. I am compassionate. I am gracious. I am slow to anger. I'm abounding in lovingkindness and truth. I'll keep lovingkindness to a thousand generations, but by no means will I let the guilty go unpunished." Do you see that? God never is one at the expense of the other, and so whatever policy we come up with, it shouldn't have one at the expense of the other.

4._ The rule of love has order and law built into it_. Love has order built into it. I love this. In Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22, it talks about how the fruit of the Spirit… In other words, when the Spirit of God is there, when you are walking with God, acknowledging God, subservient to God, then what you have is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. There are nine things. I don't think they're all-inclusive. I think they're just representative of every good thing that is there when God is there.

It's why I said last week you don't pray for patience; you pray to yield to the Spirit of God what you say is good, because if the Spirit of God is in your life you will be patient. If you're not loving, if your home isn't filled with peace, it's because it's not led by a Spirit-filled man. You don't pray for self-control. Your problem is you are not following the Spirit of Christ. That's why you're not showing self-control. Where God is there is self-control.

If you're lacking self-control, if you're giving yourself over to your addiction, it's because you're not giving yourself to God. Love is not separate, and that's why we call you to re:generation. Come and have your life changed. Put yourself under his authority. Don't be impulsive; be humble. That fourth principle says that love is never exclusive of law; it's built into it. That's why it says at the very end of Galatians 5:22-23, "…against such things there is no law."

There is not a land in the world that says, "You can't love past 9:00. You're not allowed to be kind to more than five people a day. Hey, you cannot drive with self-control on that street." There's no law like that. We say you can't drive when you don't have self-control, when you're dissipated by some object or some chemical substance that would influence you. We have to keep those people off the street.

There's no law against peace. There's no law against patience. So love and law are built right into it. Don't try and separate one from the other. Our Bible has welcome in it, but it also has walls built. You look at Ruth. Ruth, you're welcome here. You look at Nehemiah. We're building walls so those who aren't to be welcomed won't be welcomed here. Your Bible has both, and you should pay attention to it. It doesn't have blanket amnesty. It has welcome, but it has walls.

5._ While we continue to warn others of the grave dangers of ignoring the rule of law, we must model for others the rule of love_. This is where we have to talk about what we expect our government to do, so we have to have an appropriate attitude toward government policy. Remember what government policy is? Government policy suggests punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. There's a way to do right if you are a sojourner, but there has to be a punishment of evildoers. So while we're calling people to have an appropriate rule of law, we have to absolutely be people who model the rule of love.

Philippians 4:9 says, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." In other words, we above all people ought to be individuals who folks look at and go, "You know what? We may not like what they say, the songs they sing, the God they say they know, but the truth is if everybody lived like those who say they know the God who declared life, liberty, and happiness the way they do, this would be a better world."

That ought to be our reputation. So make sure in whatever you're doing, as you talk about the rule of law, you are modeling for others. Matthew 28 says, "Teach them to observe everything I have commanded you." That means you have to be a person who yourself is modeling what he's commanded so they can see the benefit of liberty that comes with obeying him, life and fullness and the better way. You have to be able to say, "It is going well with us because we're listening to God," and we have to lovingly share it.

I want to show you this little video, because it kind of encapsulates what our forefathers understood was absolutely critical to the prosperity of the land in which we live. I heard this story anecdotally from a lot of different people even before I saw this video, that others would come to our land and they would go, "What is the secret to the greatness of America?" Do you want to know what the secret was? The secret was we were founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic. We understood the rule of love, the rule of law.

We knew there was a rightness that was beyond us, and we were going to order our liberty according to it. Tocqueville, the French historian, when he came here basically said, "The secret to America's greatness is her goodness. When America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." Folks, America is increasingly ceasing to be good, because we don't hold to self-evident truths anymore. When you don't hold to self-evident truths, when you reject law, it becomes a lawless land, and lawless lands do not live long. Watch this.


Male: Some time ago, I had a conversation with a Marxist economist from China. He was coming to the end of a Fulbright fellowship here in Boston, and I asked him if he had learned anything that was surprising or unexpected, and without any hesitation he said, "Yeah. I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy. The reason why democracy works," he said, "is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does, but rather democracy works because most people most of the time voluntarily choose to obey the law. In your past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week, and they were taught there by people who they respected."

My friend went on to say that Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe that they weren't just accountable to society; they were accountable to God. My Chinese friend heightened a vague but nagging concern I've harbored inside. As religion loses its influence over the lives of Americans, what will happen to our democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they, too, need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws? Because if you take away religion, you can't hire enough police.

[End of video]

That's a fact. That's why George Washington in his inaugural address to our country, in the very first inauguration… He said, "If we remove religion and morality from our country, it hasn't a chance." No nation does. Love and law go together. That's why you hear me say that the greatest evil in our country is not one political party over another. It's not some radical socialist agenda.

It is the dead and feckless, ineffective, godless, compromised church that doesn't say to others, "The things you learned and received from us, the things you've heard and seen, practice these things"; the church that doesn't make disciples; the church that doesn't model righteousness, life, liberty, and happiness; the church that is isolated; the church that is compromised; the church that is not truth-telling, winsome, and bold.

I'm going to tell you what's happening in our country. We are not being destroyed from without. It's our children who are growing up who don't seek and serve God. Maybe it's not ours. Maybe it's not Watermark's, but I'm talking about people in America who came out of this amazing opportunity that was the birth of our nation, holding certain self-evident truths that were subscribed to and largely held for a long time that led to great blessing and prosperity like no other nation has ever seen.

We now begin to scoff at it, and we now spit in the face of those laws and the God who gave them. "Get his commandments out of here. Don't talk to him." We don't even think he's there. We still have a national motto that says "In God we trust." It is not our national manner. I'm telling you, I think the problem is with the church. I really do. It's a non-disciple-making, non-abiding church, because when we are salt and light and we're a city on a hill and there is blessing and love here, people will still run to it. They will immigrate here if they see freedom.

So that is our duty and that is our job. Let us not scoff at everything. We're not supposed to watch Fox News and fret. We are supposed to be faithful and declare life, liberty, and love. How are you doing? If everybody this week ordered themselves freely, not because there's police, but did right because of your teaching, your modeling, your encouragement, what would our country be like?

See, we can't just sit here and talk about the wicked pornography industry and then take a little opportunity to endorse it on our phones and our computers when no one is looking. We can't talk about those who want to redefine marriage and walk away from ours when it gets hard. We can't talk about how wrong it is for our government to go deep in debt and then have Black Friday rule us. This is the institution that is to be an agent of grace.

So what does this institution say about immigrants and how we treat them? Let's see if we can't learn something together. There are three most common commandments in Scripture, specifically in the Old Testament. You're going to find this again and again. "Have no idols." In other words, "Don't put anything else in front of me." Why? "Because only I can give you life." Secondly, make sure you don't jack with the widow or the orphan. Why? Because they are defenseless. They have no protector, often no provider.

You can easily destroy them, manipulate them, or ignore them, and God says, "You'd best not do that. My people don't do that. If you know me, if you're not your own idol, if you serve me, then you'd better serve the weak." Lastly, he says, "Don't oppress the sojourner. Don't oppress the immigrant or the alien." Now be careful, because the Bible uses two words when it talks about the sojourner, and I'm going to teach you the difference in those words.

I have some friends who I love, who are men who preach the Word of God, who have signed onto a document that I think is erroneous and wrong, because they didn't take a careful look at the way those terms were being used in the Scripture, that kind of created the evangelicals for immigration endorsement of certain senate bills that are probably not kind, both to the native and to the immigrant.

I'm going to teach you the difference this morning. So here we go. Here are just some basic principles we have to start with. I'm going to try to walk this fine balance of what your individual responsibility is as a believer and what your responsibility is as an individual who informs the attitude of government. Let's start with the individual.

First of all, immigrants are people made in the image of God. I've already mentioned this briefly. They should be treated with dignity and love and called to respect the laws of the land. Every single person. Genesis 1:26-27 says that. Proverbs 22 says, "The rich and the poor have a common bond, the Lord is the maker of them all." We don't just take certain immigrants because they're smarter than others. We have to make sure we're faithful to love all people.

There has to be a system, however, to care for all people who we say we want to love. When you have a broken system and add more people to it, it's not loving. It hurts those who are here, and it's going to hurt those who are coming. Proverbs 14:21 says, "He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor." So even in our immigration system there needs to be an opportunity for us to be gracious, especially to the weak. But we can't help the weak if we're weak ourselves.

We just taught through the book of James. In the book of James it says, "…do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes…" If he has a big degree, an opportunity to come do business that's going to make you rich, and you treat him one way, and then there's another person who's dirty, and you say to that person, "You stand over there," he says that kind of distinction is filled with evil motives.

Let me just say this. Whatever your view of racism, Christian, godly person… If your view of immigration has any racism in it, it is wrong. If your immigration policy says you need to be white to be welcomed, you are uninformed, unbiblical, and ungodly. We're not just to welcome those who look like us.

Secondly, we have to stop thinking that welcoming them to America is God's plan of salvation for them. When that little statement was put up on Ellis Island that says, "Bring me all your weak and your tired and your oppressed," that wasn't our idea. God's design was not that America would be the Promised Land. God's design was that any nation on earth, any individual on earth that knew him, walked with him, did justice the way he described justice, loved kindness the way he defined lovingkindness, and walked humbly with him, would be a land of opportunity and blessing.

We have to stop acting like America is God's salvation for the world. No. Jesus Christ is God's salvation for the world. If you and I are more excited to encourage people to come to America, even at the violation of law, than we are to come to Christ that the law shows us our need for, we do not have a sound immigration policy. If you're more zealous for people being naturalized citizens than supernaturally saved, you do not have a sound immigration policy.

In fact, I just want to say this to you. The problem is that America is immigrating to godlessness away from virtue and away from self-evident truths, so we are becoming our own persecutor and creating our own problems. We have to get our own house in order. You cannot help people if your own house is not in order. That's why I tell guys all the time, "You want to be a great dad? Lead yourself. You want a really good family? Don't make more money. Follow Jesus, because the best thing you can do to lead your family is to lead yourself."

If we want to lead the world, we'd better lead ourselves. We'd better deal with our own problems economically. We'd better deal with our own problems morally before we try to tell the whole world we're here to save them. We need to make sure we hold to those self-evident truths. I love this statement. Government's job is to facilitate the movement of labor in a manner. In other words, allowing folks to come in… Government has to regulate that in a way that keeps America free, safe, and prosperous.

Flooding it with unskilled workers who are going to be dependent on a welfare state or who are going to have desperate need of charity when we don't already have a welfare system that works is not loving, and we have to think through our law and how we allow folks to come. You need to know this. There are about 12 million illegal immigrants currently in our country. Four million of them or more came here legally. They just came with work visas or educational visas, and they outstayed them and haven't left.

We have about 1,700,000 people who have a green card or a work permit who are here, 700,000 work permits, one million other green cards that are already here. There are five million people legally waiting to get into our country. Now listen. People are here right now because we have let them and we have not done an effective job of guarding our borders, like nations from the beginning of Genesis have always done.

Here's the reason why, by the way. There are two signs down there at our southern border, one guy said, and I really agree with him. One says, "Do not enter" and the other one says, "Help wanted." We want you to come because you're poor, oppressed, and tired and we can pay you less than other lazy Americans, because we have a broken welfare system that de-incentivizes people from working. One-seventh of our national economy right now goes to merit-based welfare systems that are creating dependence on our government and perpetual need for charity, and that is not loving.

Let me just give you four sentences of my ideas on this. America has to start doing the right thing. We will no longer be the land of opportunity if we don't do the things we need to do to create and stay an opportunity society. That means spend less, address debt, fix welfare problems by making it work for the poor, not against them, by encouraging people to work, not to be dependent on government or perpetual charity.

The system is broken when we have people who can do better by not working than working. It is inconsistent with Scripture. We have to repent of unfair wages offered hard-working Americans. We have to deal with educational injustice, secure the border, deal with the shadow community that's out there by allowing them a chance to self-identify, get in line, make amends, and contribute to our nation.

Now how we do that is going to take a lot of nuance, and that's not my purpose this morning, but that has to be your attitude. We have to start by saying, "Listen, gang. We have to get our house in order, and not just invite people into a house of dependency." It's wrong that we have people we bring up here, and they'll do jobs Americans won't do. It's wrong for one of two reasons. First, if we won't work we shouldn't eat.

Secondly, if guys work and we don't give them enough money for the work they do so that their family stays at a poverty level so they need some assistance from the government, that is wrong. If there is a job that is worth doing, it's a job worth compensating somebody for so they can provide for their family and live faithfully in this country. That is your job as an employer. We don't need to raise the minimum wage.

You need to know, "How are the folks at my company doing?" Now we shouldn't all live in the same house and drive the same cars, but if they can't educate their kids, provide for health care for their kids, if they can't take their wife on a date, if they can't every now and then entertain themselves in appropriate ways to have some fun because you are keeping them at a certain level to maximize your profits, if you're a company owner, that, my friends, is not a biblical process.

We have a major wage disparity in our country. If you ask the common working man how much an executive should make more than them, what do you think the average line worker would say? According to a recent Pew Research poll, they said, "I think that guy has bigger responsibility than me. I'm just doing this job. He has learned some things I haven't learned. I think he should make seven times more than me." That's pretty generous.

Do you know what the average executive makes more than the average line worker? Three hundred fifty-four times more. That is going to create class warfare. It's going to create problems, and it's unjust. If you're a business owner here at Watermark, I'm asking you…don't make the government pay your people generously. You cut into your profit margins. You love your people. You pay them generously and help them provide for their family and care for them.

By the way, you want to do something great? You give people jobs. We have a ministry here called Faith at Work where we're trying to get owners of companies to work with us. It's a program. Get ahold of us ( Just email the church. We're trying to work with you in a discipleship-based program to give people jobs where they can provide for their family and be a productive contributor to society.

Gang, it's what we should do. It's what lovers of people do. This is biblical. A workman is worthy his wages. We can't just keep inviting an indigent worker in here so we can pay him a little less so he can make more here than he'd make down there and act like it's some blessing. By the way, if you're hiring and paying for somebody who's an illegal immigrant, you are violating the rule of law and you are a lawbreaker, and I'm going to tell you to stop doing it.

You're part of the problem, and the reason you're probably doing it is because of greed and it's helping you, and it's wrong and unbiblical. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Our job is to be individuals who speak the truth, who stand firm in the faith, and who love others. Now let me just do this very quickly, because I told you earlier that there are some folks who read certain verses in Scripture and go, "See? It sounds like what we should do is just welcome everybody." Let me explain this to you. I'm going to read you a few verses.

Leviticus 19:33-34 says, "When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God." This is very important, because Abraham, you remember, was a sojourner, an alien, but what it's saying here is "You were specifically a gerim."

There's another word that is used in the Scripture that is translated foreigner or sometimes stranger, just like the word gerim. Unfortunately, at times, in certain translations the same word is used, and it's a different person. The gerim is what Abraham was. He showed up. He asked permission to come. While he was there, he adopted the social and legal customs of the land. He did not take on the morality of the land, but he worked within the system and was a man of peace in a land that offered him peace.

He was called a sojourner or a stranger. Like I said, he adopted the social and legal customs. In Israel when you were a sojourner, you were expected not necessarily to offer the same sacrifices or to be a Jew, but you had to observe the custom of the land if you were going to be a gerim. So you practiced the Sabbath. Maybe not as a religious observance, but that's what we do in this land. You become a settler. It becomes your new home. You reside there. That's gerim. That's what's going on in Leviticus 19.

There's another word. It's the word nekar, and it's the word for somebody who was like an invading enemy or a squatter. In Lamentations, chapter 5, when Israel was out of the land, some nekar came, and they were strangers in the land and just squatted and acted like it was theirs when it wasn't theirs. They treated it like it was theirs and expected benefits from the land when they shouldn't have had that opportunity.

These verses I'm about to read to you talk about the gerim. We have a system to welcome people to our country. One of the things you need to know, if you are an uneducated migrant worker and want to get legally admitted to our country, there is an average wait of 135 years to get in. There are already five million people, some uneducated, some educated, who are looking and have applied for legal immigration.

We can't say, "Hey, the guys who get here first get in." We have to have the people who are already here, though, who are in our land, maybe because we've let them, maybe we've let them assimilate… We have to give them a chance to come outside of that shadow and say, "I am here. I came illegally. I need to make amends. I need to figure out how I can pay back taxes, pay into the school system, contribute to this nation."

By the way, I did my work this week. If you're here and you're an illegal, if you're not a lawbreaker, if you've adopted the social and legal mores of our land, they're not going to run you out. We're too limited in resources. We can't track you all down. In fact, if you raise your hand, especially if you have somebody in your family who is legalized, if you have a child or a spouse or a family member, there's an opportunity for you to get in that process and begin to become a legalized citizen.

But we can't just declare amnesty to one and all. We have to put an ordered system into place and be loving and kind to those who are here. We have to call people who are here to work and stop enabling our citizens, and then we have to invite others who want to invest in our nation with us the opportunity. That's not my idea; that's the Bible's. Let me show you this. Again, the Bible teaches welcome, not blanket amnesty. We find both walls and welcome in the Bible.

Here's what should happen with every gerim. Exodus 22 says, "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him…" That's a gerim, the person who's here. Because he maybe doesn't have native ties or because he's not yet fully stabilized, you should not underpay him. You should not take advantage of his non-legal status to exploit him, because what's he going to do? File a complaint? Show himself to be here wrongly?

By the way, our job is to make sure… When we find somebody who's here illegally, we have to say, "Listen. Your hope is not staying in America. You have to do the right thing." This is my counsel to all illegal immigrants: "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." (Psalm 37:3) This is my counsel to all native Americans: "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.""Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness." It's the same counsel.

If you tell people that being a lawbreaker to live in America is better than being a humble follower of Christ, you don't know my gospel, but you ought to care for them and come alongside of them and do what you can. Again, it says in verse 33 of Leviticus 19, "When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt…"

Listen to Numbers 15:15-16. "As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien…" In other words, you treat him just the same. This is the residing, in effect, legal resident. "…a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord. There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you."

The same law, Exodus 12:49 says, shall apply. When we have people here who say, "That law doesn't apply to me. I'm not going to work, I'm not going to contribute, I'm not going to report," that's a problem. Our job is to help them understand how they can be prosperous in the land in which they live. Work with them to form a government and a system that's going to lead to prosperity and show opportunity.

Now listen. We have a system for political asylum here when there are individuals who are oppressed and abused. It's not easy, but it's there, and it ought to be there. About 700,000 people a year just on asylum, not normal immigration, are accepted into our country every single year. But, gang, let me get back to where I really want to focus with you and me. I mentioned to you that our job is to understand where real freedom comes from, and it's not in America. It comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

You have to ask yourself right here, right now, "How am I doing? Am I more committed to the Great Commission or am I committed to a great admission into our land?" I am so proud of certain people. My daughter at Texas A&M… She's not just a good Aggie; she's a good American, because she is ordering herself in a way to find real life and liberty and happiness. She was on a bus a couple of months ago in Aggie land trying to figure out where to go. She had moved. She didn't know what bus she should get on to where she was going to go, and she realized she was on the wrong bus.

She looked over, and there were two other gals who were on that same bus who happened to be wearing burkas. She found out later they were from Bangladesh. She walked over to them and she goes, "Are you guys lost?" They kind of looked at each other, and they go, "Yeah, we think we might be." So they started laughing together, and Kirby said, "Tell me where you're from." These girls had been through an undergraduate training here in our country and now were graduate students.

My daughter befriended them. She said, "Tell me more about Bangladesh. Tell me more about your belief. Why do you wear a burka? Tell me about Islam," so she could win the right to share with them about her God and about her hope. She said, "I want to cook you an American dinner." They go, "We've never had an American dinner. We've never been over to an American's house in the four years we've been here."

Here's a little girl who says, "I'm going to love you in my land. I'm going to build a relationship with you, because you are a gerim. You're here sojourning through. Let me love you and care for you the way I would want somebody to care for me." Other members of our body work at a place where right across the street from where they work they put a mosque in. People at their place of work go, "Can you believe they put a mosque over there?"

On Fridays, they have police officers out there, and a lot of folks come and go to this very large mosque, the same way there are police officers out in front of our building on a Sunday. So do you know what they did? They said, "We're going to go to that mosque. When they call for prayer, we're going to go over there." So they went. They dressed modestly. They covered their heads, and they went over there and sat in the sisters' section upstairs in the back.

When people asked, "Why are you here? Americans are never here," they went, "We are here because we are Christians and we love Muslims. In fact, we frequently," and they do, "go to other parts of the world Muslims have as their native land, and we love them there. We thought why wouldn't we love you here?" When those other girls bow to Allah to pray for them, they bow and intercede for them in the name of Jesus Christ. They developed relationships with them.

One of them, when a girl was invited into their house, and her kids who were invited over… These Arab children were extremely excited, were running around, were chaotic, and the Muslim woman said, "I am so embarrassed. Will you please forgive me? My kids are out of control," and they go, "That's okay." They go, "No, it's not okay. This is not the way my children are to behave, but you need to understand something. We've been in America for seven years, and this is the first time they've ever been inside of an American's home."

My friends, that's not how it should be in this city. You ought to be loving people and find out there's a person underneath that burka. There's a person behind that lawn mower. There's a person behind that counter at your fast food establishment. There's a person behind that security desk. There's a person there who wants to be loved. If you're a Muslim, you don't know what love is. There are 99 names for Allah in the Qur'an. None of them have anything to do with love. Do you know that?

So when they run into a person who is loving them in the name of God, they don't know that God, and it's going to open up the doors. I love what Kirby is doing. I love what my other friends are doing, and I challenge you to do it. We have to be disciple makers who love people and take responsibility for the folks who are here, the gerim who should be here, and we have to stop welcoming others in out of our own selfishness and greed, and we have to think about how we can care for them where they are if bringing them here is not the right thing to do.

A number of years ago, I was engaging one of the guys who works here on one of our maintenance crews. I got to talking to him. I just asked him more about his story, and I found out that he was here as an illegal immigrant. He had swam the river. I just said, "Lino, I love you, but you cannot work here." I said, "But we love you. We're not going to give up on you. If other people are going to hire you, that's their business, but you're not going to be employed here. But we're going to keep pursuing you." This is his story.


Lino Leos: My name is Lino Leos, and I was born in Mexico outside the city in a very small town. My mom was a full-time mom at home, and my dad was working here in the United States. He was providing for us over in Mexico, saving some money, because every two years he would go back to Mexico and spend some time with us. When the money ran out at home, he would come back over to the US for work.

One time he was going to come to the United States he said a goodbye, and it was the saddest goodbye ever, because he was in tears as he hugged us. That goodbye that seemed to be really sad became somehow real. In a few days when he left our town, we got the news that he had an accident in the river. The boat he was in had capsized. He and another man died in the river.

My brothers and I were so little we couldn't work, so my mom had to step out and figure out a way to provide for a house. We had family here in the United States back then, so my mom thought on coming to the United States. She decided to come first. As she'd find work here in the United States, she would send money over there to provide for our needs.

She started bringing us one by one. I was the last one to come. It was hard for me when I got to face the river, to see the boat, the one I was going to go in. I had some hard feelings, some worries to remember that my dad had passed away in that same river and that that also could happen to me. But we made it to the other side, and I met with my family, my mom and my two brothers. They lived over in the East Dallas area with my uncles.

My older brother and I decided to help my mom. My uncles helped us to work with a maintenance company. A year and a half later, my mom decided to move to our own place. Also I got married, and also I was going to college. During that period of time, I got transferred to Watermark. I did that for about two years until they found out my status was not legal. They offered me help to be legal and apply for the citizenship.

We got on the phone just to find out more about what were some options on me becoming legal. There weren't very good options, so we just kind of left things like that, and I had to go to another place and work because I couldn't stay there without being legal. So that happened for a period of two or three years, and then finally there was a law that passed called deferred action, and that allowed me to become legal, so Watermark invited me to come work with them again.

Through all the stuff that was happening in my life, I think it was just too much stuff going on. I left school and was just working. My wife wanted to have a child. She got pregnant, and several months later we discovered that the child had some complications. Between the seventh and nine months, our child passed away. We were so broken. She was so desperate on having another child, but I was not ready to. I think it created pain and certain things that weren't healthy for our marriage. We both were unfaithful to each other.

It was on a Friday I came to Watermark, and I was just kind of overwhelmed. I had this emptiness on me. I needed to speak to somebody. I remember I came straight to Jim Wimberley. He's the staff pastor. I knocked on his door, and he opened, and I said, "Hey Jim, do you have a couple minutes?" I just so needed to talk to somebody. He said, "Yes, come on in, buddy."

So I went into his office, and I just started opening my heart. I said, "Hey, Jim, this is what is happening. I need help. Could you pray for us?" When he heard me and saw me as I was, so broken, he came straight in and said… The first thing he says to me is, "Know that God loves you, Lino." Just by hearing that gave me a relief. So he starts sharing the gospel with me. God loved me so much that Christ died for my sin.

That was what I needed to hear. The emptiness I had in me is because I was not loved by the one who truly loves, which is Jesus Christ. As a new creation, I'm dying more to myself, to my sin. I'm learning to put others first than myself, just like Jesus did when he was on earth. The life I was searching for was not found in the land but it was found in Christ.

[End of video]

During that time that we didn't employ Lino, we continued to pursue him and love him and keep that relationship with him. We knew what he needed was not our land. What he needed was our Lord. I love that we have Spanish translation Equipped Disciple, which Lino is now, I think, on his third book with. I love that we have a Spanish membership class so that the gerim among us who's learning our language can learn more about our Lord, so they can understand our polity and practices, which are God's and which work in Mexico or Saudi Arabia or Israel or Turkey or Bangladesh.

God wants our blessing to be a blessing to others, and our blessing is not America. Our blessing is Jesus Christ. If you're here today and you are separated from Jesus Christ, I encourage you to come in your weariness, in your poverty, in your wondering if there's a place of rest. The answer is there is. It's with Jesus. Come. There is no wall there except for sin, and that wall has been broken down by his love and his provision on the cross.

Because God has a perfect kingdom and community and order, there is going to be no pressure put on the system, and we will help you grow as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and live with us as alien and stranger, sojourning through earth, but because we're faithful sojourners, we're residing here. We're seeking the welfare of the city we're in, and there's no other way to seek the welfare of the city we're in except to love people to Christ while we're here.

Do you know that Dallas, Texas, is the number-one city for refugees in the United States of America? Do you know that every Tuesday night we have a ministry over there with my dear friends in the Vickery area, where we're loving children from nations all over the earth? Do you want to go overseas with us? Come to Vickery with us on Tuesday nights.

My friends Neil and Jody Curran are here, and they're ministering to Vietnamese and Chinese and every other imaginable nation I can mention who are students in universities all around here. Join us in loving them. Just take that little perforated section in your Watermark News saying, "I want to love the gerim." What I'm going to tell you is I want you to love the native too, people who are here.

Stop abusing the system. Stop telling people their hope is America. Their hope is Jesus, and our responsibility is to speak to our country and say, "Let's get our country in order so we can help other countries. Let's be that city on a hill again that can tell them if they order their life the way we do, underneath the divine providence that has shown himself to us, it can go well with your land." Would you join me? Would you come? Would you immigrate toward Christ, and would you be his ambassador to all others? Amen? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.