Friday, December 23, 2011
Jesus, an Immigrant
Recently, I was at a meeting where a representative from the North Carolina Council of Churches was presenting some interesting statistics on population changes in our state. He said that for many people in the world immigration is not a problem, it is a solution. I don’t think I’ve really heard it put that way before.
Immigration is hard on a family. The decision to leave home and perhaps never return isn’t made lightly. There are dangers involved. Loved ones are left behind. Why would someone take those risks? Several answers come to mind: freedom, safety, the ability to provide a better life for children through education, health care, and job opportunities. Few of us can imagine what it would be like if we were trying to raise our children in a place where violence, oppression, hunger, and poverty was the norm.
Hours later the speaker’s words were still trying to find a comfortable place to sit in my thinking. They couldn’t be dismissed easily. Then suddenly and without warning they struck a different nerve. A new thought came to mind and I found myself sitting up straighter in my chair. An unexpected ah-ha moment was happening. I heard myself say, “Wow!” There is another example where immigration is the answer to a problem---but this time it isn’t the one who is immigrating who is looking for a solution to his difficulties. The one immigrating came to be the solution to our deepest problem.
God saw that things here were getting desperate. The influence of evil was growing; the impact of faith was more and more hidden. People were hungry for the knowledge of God’s love; thirsty for the hope that things were somehow going to get better. God sent God’s One and Only Son with the promise that whoever believes in him will find eternal life (see John 3:16). The Advent of Jesus is an immigration where God sent “The Word become flesh to dwell among us,” (John 1:14). Jesus came to change our way of seeing where we are now, to help us discover hope, to help us find promise, to show us a love that was once hidden. The immigration of Jesus changes us and changes the world. If we will only follow Jesus, he will lead us to a better life now and a better life-everlasting. We could not cross the border to live with God so God crossed the border to provide a way that we can discover faith and hope for the present and the path to eternal life then.
Philippians 2:6-8 says it best: “Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being found in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death---even death on a cross.” The decision to send Jesus to us was not entered into lightly. For God, this was an act of pure love. For us it is the solution to our deepest problem; our fallen state. “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9). The birth of Heaven’s Immigrant in a Bethlehem stable is the greatest gift ever given. He is not only our neighbor, he is our only hope.
Len Keever is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dunn. This article originally appeared in their church newsletter, The Builder.