A Confusion of Roles

fence-border

The anti-Trump sentiment has hit a fever pitch in recent weeks over his immigration policies. Even though President Trump’s initiatives differ little from the policies of other recent presidents, this has not stopped the fierce condemnation of his executive orders. Many forget that President Obama stopped all immigration from Iraq for six months in 2011 citing similar reasons for his travel ban that President Trump is giving for his actions.

I saw that over 100 evangelical leaders recently joined together in posting an advertisement in the Washington Post condemning President Trump’s temporary travel ban on immigrants from seven countries where terrorist activity is high.

On the other side, many other Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham and prophecy pastor JD Farag are voicing strong support for the temporary travel ban mandated by the President’s executive order.

Why is the Christian community so divided on immigration? Does Scripture give us any guidance in sorting out these various viewpoints?

What is going on here? Why is the Christian community so divided on this issue? Does Scripture give us any guidance in sorting out these various viewpoints? I believe it does.

The Role of Government in the New Testament

2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (NKJV). Since my early years of attending Awana, this verse has always stuck with me. In the original, the idea of “rightly dividing” Scripture is that of making a “straight cut.” It signifies handling God’s Word accurately.

I believe that the leaders siding with the opponents of Trump are not “rightly dividing” God’s word in that they are not separating the role of the government from that of us as followers of Jesus. They are confusing the role of civil authority with that of believers. Let me explain.

The Bible teaches that the primary role of government is to punish those who break the law and in so doing protect its citizens (Rom. 13:1-7). God entrusts human government with the responsibility of intervening when a crime is committed and gives it the right to punish the wrongdoer.

Our government leaders are entrusted with the responsibility to keep us safe. This is their primary task.

When government does it job correctly, its citizens enjoy a “peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Is this not why we are commanded to pray for our leaders? Our government leaders are entrusted with the responsibility to keep us safe. This is their primary task.

Franklin Graham summed it best, “But we have to realize that the President’s job is not the same as the job of the church.” Government is chiefly responsible for protecting its citizens.  National borders are not some evil invention of humanity, they originate in God’s sovereign purposes for the nations of the world (see Acts 17:26).

Graham’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, has provided relief for refugees in most of the nations listed on the travel ban. Their hospital outside Mosul in Iraq even cares for wounded ISIS fighters. But as he pointed out in a recent Facebook post, caring for them in Iraq is far different than allowing them to migrate to our nation.

Graham went on to also say this, “Taking time to vet who we’re allowing to enter America isn’t too much to ask—we need to know who they are. God does tell us to help the stranger and those in need; but God doesn’t tell us to expose our cities, homes, and lives to hostile people.”

The primary role of Government is to protect its citizens. The Lord calls believers to a far different task.

The Role of New Testament Believers

As followers of Christ, we are commanded to welcome strangers as well as show mercy and compassion to the hurting. We do not take our own revenge when wronged or if a crime is committed against us or someone we love. Instead, we forgive and place any resolution of justice in the hands of God alone and then with the civil authorities.

The evangelical leaders criticizing the immigration policies of President Trump cited the parable of the Good Samaritan as proof of their argument that we should welcome Muslim refugees to our nation.

The parable, however, speaks to our responsibility to minister for those we encounter in our daily walk. It says nothing about the function of government. Jesus’ words here speak solely to our duty as believers to care for the needs of the hurting that He brings our way. It’s a mistake to apply this to our government that has far different responsibilities.

I applaud the efforts of evangelicals who are ministering in Jesus’ name to the needs of the refugees who have reached our shores. They are acting as “Good Samaritans” to these people. They, along with Samaritan’s Purse, are obeying Jesus’ call to minister to the hurting both here and the Middle East. Many have come to know Jesus as their Savior as a result of these initiatives.

Much confusion results when we apply God’s commands to us as His followers to our government leaders who are tasked with much different obligations.

Are we as followers of Christ commanded to be welcoming to strangers and aliens? Are we to help those in need? Absolutely! This is what Jesus taught through the parable of the Good Samaritan.

This does not, however, imply that our government should open its borders to those who intend to harm us. Its first responsibility is to protect those within its God-ordained borders.

Much confusion results when we apply God’s commands to us as His followers to our government leaders who are tasked with much different obligations.

The Need for Further Discernment

As believers, we must also be discerning of what we hear even though such wisdom is increasingly difficult amidst the avalanche of “fake news.” It’s prevalent everywhere we look. I have all too often become agitated by something I read only later to find out that the story was false or misleading.

There are several things, however, that I believe are well-supported.

We know that refugees from those nations on President Trump’s travel ban have joined in terror attacks in France and Belgium. ISIS has made it clear it intends to enter our country posing as needy refugees. The FBI has already arrested several refugees in our country for their association with ISIS.

Many of the Muslims already here are seeking to impose Sharia Law upon us rather than accept the laws of our land. Sharia Law denies all the rights we currently enjoy because of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The treatment of women under Sharia Law is both abominable and demonic.

The threat is real and we do need good measures for vetting immigrants who seek refuge in our country.

We are a nation of immigrants and we have derived tremendous strength from those who have come to our shores from other nations. This, however, has come about from those who have come lawfully to our country and then submitted to our laws.

Is our government really fulfilling its God-given purpose if it lets in those who seek to harm us and subvert our laws? Are we really wise to let in strangers who shout “death to America” and make no secret about their hatred for us? I do not believe so.

President Trump’s purpose in the travel ban is meant to accomplish two stated purposes. First, he is seeking to improve the current vetting process, which even the FBI director appointed by President Obama said was insufficient and not capable of keeping out the bad guys. Secondly, the President is seeking to make the process fair for Christians, who are by far the most persecuted group in the Middle East.

During the last year of President Obama, Christian refugees made up about one half of one percent of all the refugees from nations such as Syria. Why the shameful discrimination against persecuted believers? I am happy to hear that our President intends to correct this serious injustice.

Conclusion

Does Scripture place the same responsibility upon government and its leaders as it does upon us as followers of Christ? No. While our leaders in government do not escape responsibility for the justness of their actions, their primary purpose is to punish evil and thereby protect its citizens.

We may disagree on whether President Trump’s policies are necessary for our security and that is fine. Based on what I see here and in Europe, I believe his temporary travel ban is both wise and necessary. I pray it will result in a safer vetting process as well as the acceptance of many more Christian refugees seeking to avoid the brutality of ISIS.

Whatever the outcome of the debate, it’s comforting to know that our hope is solely in Jesus and in His return to take us home. My hope is certainly not based on the government always getting its policies correct nor my ability to always do what’s right in showing mercy to others. My hope is solely in Christ who died in my place that I might have eternal life. I would have no hope apart from Jesus.

Jesus will not fail us regardless of the turmoil we see around us every day. Even when everything we see disappoints us, we can know for sure that Jesus will remain faithful to His own forever and ever.

Never forget that He alone is our hope. He is coming soon to take us home! In the meantime, He will never leave nor forsake us. It does not get much better than that.

If you have never put your trust in Jesus as your Savior, please do so before it is too late.

Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

 

 

8 thoughts on “A Confusion of Roles

  1. Kay Fedrick February 18, 2017 / 10:12 am

    Good morning, Jonathan. Great post. Thank you. Two points I would like to make that I didn’t see in your article (which doesn’t mean they weren’t there). First is that believers are commanded to obey the laws of their government. To encourage illegal immigration means rebellion against God’s commandment, and it also make lawbreakers of otherwise innocent people. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 become more relevant every day – lawlessness will increase. Today, that is including many within the church acting against the authority of our government. By all means, we are to help legal immigrants, but the first thing must remain the first thing – abide by the law.

    The second point is that God has ordained and established boundaries and nations. Those who are radically pro-illegal immigrant are also radically pro-globalists. It is interesting to me to consider that God first established nations and boundaries as a judgment against the globalists of Babel, but for their protection. One day (and probably soon), He will allow the removal of those boundaries, not for our protection, but for judgment.

    Anyway, I enjoy reading your posts. They are always thought-provoking.

    Grace and peace, Karole

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan C Brentner February 18, 2017 / 10:16 am

      Thanks! You make great and valid points that certainly further the discussion I started in my post.

      Like

  2. Stephen Nielsen February 18, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    Thanks for this post. I have also been thinking along these points and you have given me some good verses and thoughts to start a study of my own. We definitely need strong and safe borders. And we need to know who comes into our country.

    Like

    • Jonathan C Brentner February 19, 2017 / 8:27 am

      Thanks for your response and eagerness to further pursue this.

      Like

  3. Marge February 18, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Thank you for an excellent article! You are so correct, that we ( I am Canadian ) are nations of immigrants. That is how we both have started. However, no group or race has ever come into our countries with the absolute thought of imposing their laws, killing people of different faiths and demanding change in every aspect of society.
    I have friends who are Serbian, Scottish, Chinese, Finnish, Italian, German, etc., and they celebrate their cultures, but are happy and proud to be part of Canada. They are not demanding changes to the school system, separate prayer rooms, or shopping centres.
    I believe we have been taught so much about loving our neighbour, that we have forgotten our God given right to stand up for what is Godly, true, loving, pure, and holy. No where are we told to be a door mat, roll over, play dead, and be trampled into the dust.
    God is using you for these end time purposes mightily. Thank you and Blessings
    P.S
    Something no one ever discusses except good Jack Van Impe, is that part of the Islamic teaching supports that lies are totally acceptable to achieve your purposes. America has been lied to for 8 years; all part of the plan. Now the real truth is coming out. Our God says liars don’t get into Heaven!
    Once again Holy Spirit is the other way of finding truth, in fact, He leads us to all truth. I just learned, I believe on Rapture Ready, that the Islamics are forbidden to even use the word Spirit, they refuse to and are forbidden to speak Trinity!!!
    I have always been puzzled why the 7 Trumpets kill or destroy thirds! I believe that revelation is developing.

    Like

    • Jonathan C Brentner February 19, 2017 / 8:30 am

      Thanks for your kind words. You are so right that the Koran teaches Muslims that it is perfectly acceptable to lie in order for them to achieve their own purposes.

      Like

  4. soupsoothesthesoul February 18, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    1) There are very significant differences between Obama’s executive order and the one the current administration has tried to enact 2) They were unable to provide convincing evidence that these countries pose a unique threat to the U.S., which is why the courts blocked the immigration ban. We do in fact have a vetting process for visas from countries that may contain terrorists, more so than France which is why their experience is not a valid comparison. Furthermore, many experts on national security have said that enacting such a ban puts us more at risk by alienating our Arab allies and feeding into the rhetoric of Isis recruitment.

    Like

    • Jonathan C Brentner February 19, 2017 / 8:58 am

      Even if President Trump had worded his executive order precisely the same way as Obama, I am convinced the current controversy would be exactly the same. The result of both orders was a ban on travel for refugees and that is the main point I am making with my comparison. The President issued his ban on travel much earlier than he intended because of information he received that the threat of terror was increasing for our nation. He acted on information given to him at his security briefings and chose the nations for his ban based on Obama’s designation of those nations as terror hotspots. The task of the courts is not to decide upon the validity of information that our President sees. If that is the reason they overturned his executive order, they far overstepped their authority. President Trump acted in a way he believed would protect American lives.

      There are just as many experts on national security who believe that our bans on travel make no difference whatsoever in regard to ISIS recruitment. There is much disagreement among the “experts” in this regard and I side with the experts that believe Trump’s ban on travel is necessary for our protection and to allow for a review of the vetting process. The process President Trump inherited was demonstratively unfair to persecuted Christians. If for no other reason than that, the vetting process needs to be reviewed. The arrests of some refugees for their association with ISIS shows that there is something lacking in our current vetting process.

      Like

Comments are closed.