Should Christians have their own country

by Michael Birgden

Sunday, 09/30/2018

Anyone who stirs up fear of foreigners or migrants and invokes values ​​of the Christian West has either never read the Bible or did not understand it. Because the statements of the Holy Scriptures about "strangers" are clear.

Already in the first book of the Bible - in the account of creation (Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26ff) - it says: "And God said: Let us make people (...) And God created people in his image, in the image of God he created him; and created them male and female. " Because of this act of creation and the image of God, every human being, regardless of race, skin color, nationality, origin or gender, has a God-given dignity. This means that a racial arrogance is deprived of any basis from the start.

On the scientific Bible portal of the German Bible Society it can be read that in the Old Testament the two terms "foreigner" and "foreigner", which are used almost synonymously today, expressed their different social and sometimes also legal positions in the Israelite people. According to this, a stranger "was in most cases a person of a foreign ethnic origin. This person was (...) free, but dependent on a full-fledged Israelite or a superior community, (...), permanently resident in the country, with certain rights provided, but not fully legal and excluded from property. "

Next it says there: "The following are essentially named as the causes for the foreigner settling in a strange environment: Famine, (cf. Gen 12:10; Gen 26: 1-3; 1 Kings 17:20; 2 Kings 8: 1; Ruth 1, 1), war (cf. 2Sam 4,3; Isa 16,4; Jer 42,15.17.22; Jer 43,2.5; Jer 44,8f.12.14.28), escape from prosecution (cf.Ex 2,12) and threatened debt slavery. " Applied to today's conditions, the Old Testament "stranger" could therefore be translated, among other things, as refugee or asylum seeker.

Where the Old Testament, on the other hand, expressly speaks of a "foreigner" (nåkhrî), according to the Bible portal, this usually refers to a certain individual person "who usually only stays in Israel temporarily, at least not recognizing any far-reaching efforts to assimilate into Israelite society and does not enjoy any special legal protection - it is clearly distinguished from the "foreigner" in essential points. (...) It is repeatedly emphasized that it is primarily economic relationships that connect the "foreigner" with the Israelites - his economic-social Position is more that of a "strong" than that of a "threatened."

When it comes to dealing with strangers or strangers, the Old Testament gives clear information in various places. This is what it says in Exodus, chap. 22, verse 20: "You shall not take advantage of or exploit a stranger, for you yourself were strangers in Egypt". This motif appears again in the 3rd book of Moses. In chapter 19, verse 34 it reads: "The stranger who stays with you should be regarded as a native to you and you should love him as yourself, for you yourself were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord yours God." With reference to the time when the Israelites had to live as a slave people in Egypt, they are reminded of their own "foreignness". The aim is to increase compassion and understanding for foreigners in their own country.

In the New Testament, which tells the salvation story of Jesus, a completely new perspective comes into play when it comes to "strangers". The ethnic origin of a person becomes a completely secondary matter: "Here there is neither a Jew nor a Greek, here is neither a servant nor a free man, here is neither a man nor a woman; for you are all one in Christ Jesus", writes the apostle Paul in a letter the Galatians (chap. 3, verse 28).

But even in Jesus' time there were tendencies to distance oneself from others. They wanted nothing to do with sinners, tax collectors, people from the Samaritan people and other "foreigners". They were looked down upon and even denied traditional hospitality. But Jesus approached precisely these groups of people. He spoke to the supposed sinner Mary of Magdala, he ate with the tax collector Zacchaeus and, with the story of the good Samaritan, highlighted his actions as exemplary.

For Jesus, love of God and love of neighbor are inextricably linked. He himself formulates this double commandment of love ("You should love the Lord your God - with all your heart (...) and with all your strength and your neighbor as yourself") and declares it to be the most important commandment of all (see Gospel of Mark, chap. 12, verses 29-31). Christian action is based on this double command, because as a Christian one cannot worship God and at the same time "ignore" one's neighbor.

In the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 25, verse 35ff) Jesus tells of the coming of the Last Judgment and says: "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. (...) Then become The righteous answer him and say: Lord, when did we see you hungry and gave you something to eat? Or thirsty and gave you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and take you in? (...) Verily, I say to you: what you did to one of these least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me. " So whoever takes in strangers also invites Jesus to come to them.