S (Scripture): Jeremiah 7:5 You must change the way you have been living and do what is right. You must treat one another fairly. 6 Stop oppressing foreigners who live in your land, children who have lost their fathers, and women who have lost their husbands. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop paying allegiance to other gods. That will only bring about your ruin. 7 If you stop doing these things, I will allow you to continue to live in this land which I gave to your ancestors as a lasting possession.
O (Observation): God is speaking through His prophet Jeremiah, recalling the poor ways in which God’s people were treating foreigners, widows, and orphans. These folks represented people with almost no political or social power. They were dismissed by almost everyone.
God’s people (who inherited the land of Judah and Israel) placed on themselves a special status. And instead of being grateful, they chose to be selfish and ignore the weak in their society. God calls them to account for their hypocrisy. They want to come and worship the Lord, and at the same time choose to ignore or prey upon the weak.
God calls to their attention the need for assisting those who cannot help themselves.
A (Application): Now, I’m not trying to say that God gave “Americans of today” this land to inherit. That line of thought meant harassing and stealing from the Native Americans that inhabited this land. We are slowly going about the work of repentance in that area, and rightly so. But for today, that’s not where I’m going at all. Here is where I’m going…
Wherever we live, whatever our situation, we are called to care for our neighbors. We have a similar need today as in Jeremiah’s time: caring or widows/widowers, orphans, and foreigners.
Widows/widowers, orphans, and foreigners have always needed help, because their support systems have broken down, or were taken away from them. Can they make it on their own, perhaps…but why not help?
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS, lirs.org) is an organization that responds to the call to care for the foreigners, especially unaccompanied refugee children. Imagine being one of those children…in a land that you don’t know, with people speaking in a language you don’t understand, and having some stranger talk to you every once in a while. You have a mother and father, but they believe your best chance at a fruitful life is to get out of the situation you were in. This happens…A LOT!
Here is a stat from the LIRS website: “The FY 2015 numbers to date (through June 30, 2015) show 26,685 U.S. Border Patrol encounters of unaccompanied children and an estimated 18,000 unaccompanied children in Office of Refugee Resettlement care.” (http://lirs.org/our-work/people-we-serve/children/advocating-for-children/)
That’s a lot of children. And that’s only 6 months!
I know this is a political issue…but my question is this: how does the church respond?
My suggestion: We continue the work of folks like LIRS. We work on integrating these children into families that are able to care for these kids. We work with the government to help find ways to care for these children. We work as a global church to care for these children.
This is long, hard work. And yet, it is a healthy response to God’s word to Israel, through Jeremiah. It is a healthy response to Jesus’ command to love one another.
Have you been involved in caring for the foreigner? The widow? The orphan? If so, please share below.
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P (Prayer): Lord, we are who we are only because of you. We have our being and bodies and souls because you have made it so. Help us to find appreciation for you and how you give us what we need to carry on. And then, help us to help others. Amen.