Psalm 111:6 (ESV)
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
God has shown the power of His works in giving His people the inheritance of the nations. The original intent of this text is to bring Israel to remember that God enabled them to win militarily over the nations in the land they were sent in to subdue. God went before them into the Promised Land and they took it from the inhabitants as God enabled. But is that where the application ends? How may this be true of the church today? Few Bible believing Christians would argue against seeing this as a reference to the fact that the church is comprised of people from every tribe tongue people and nation. God has added and is adding people from all the nations to the inheritance of the saints. They are added to the church. It is a great truth and we rob ourselves and the Gospel if we reserve application to ancient Israel alone. So far, so good. But the verse says that God gives His people, the church, the inheritance of the nations. May I be so bold as to suggest that this does not simply mean that the church is comprised of people from all over the world but means, more specifically, that these foreigners are added to the church wherever the church may be found.
I write this from the city that is considered to be the most cosmopolitan city in the world. More nations now call Toronto home than any other city in the world. Hundreds of languages are spoken in this city. This is true in most of the west. The United States has a phenomenal rate of growth through immigration as do Great Britain, and the rest of western Europe. It brings Acts 17:26 to mind:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
This does not mean that God put people where they are and they should stay put. We believe in Providence and we should believe that there is a purpose behind the great movements of the people of the world to countries that have freedom and opportunities that they have never yet experienced. North America is inhabited by people from somewhere else. The only residents who have any lengthy history here are the aboriginal peoples and we should be very glad that they did not have an immigration policy in the sixteenth century when our Europeans started venturing this way. Shoot, they might have treated our ancestors the way we now treat new immigrants. But I digress.
All kinds of political and economic and social reasons are given today as to why immigration to our shores should be curtailed. I suppose that there are Christians on both sides of the debate, like there are Christians holding to various beliefs regarding various political issues. The Christian faith does not march in lock step with any particular political understanding of the world. How can it? Political understandings are formulated, fine tuned and held to by all kinds of non-Christians with all kinds of religious beliefs that conflict with Christianity. They are bound to conflict with the Christian faith at some point.
How should Christians respond to growing immigration? Should we be concerned about the erosion of our culture? Should the job market be an issue of concern to us? Will people with several generations of history here be concerned about the changes being brought by those who have no history here at all? What ought to be thrown into the mix of issues being considered is the truth that God gives the inheritance of the nations to the church. Could it be that one of the ways He does that is by the mass influx of a mass of people to North American shores? Of course. Countries close borders, make harsh laws outlawing evangelism and changing one’s religion. People flee and come to us. The church should be among the first to see that God is at work in such things for at least the purpose of giving the Gospel to them. Some people are not fleeing from oppression but they want others to think they are. They lie. Just like everybody else. If they get caught they will be dealt with. In the meantime how should the Church respond to them?
There is a gentleman in our church who used to do Bible studies for people awaiting rulings regarding their application to be allowed into the country. They were living in a hotel until their claims could be processed. Some of them were converted. Some of those converted will be refused entry. They will take their new found faith back to their own country. Some were permitted entry and bring their new found faith into Canada and will be an influence for the Gospel here. In any case the purposes of God in redeeming people from everywhere is being realized.
The Providence of God is simply a stunning thing and it is a thrilling thing to see, in some small measure how events dove tail together to produce new followers of Jesus Christ. One of them is the fact that He has put the world at the doorsteps of our communities in this country and other western countries and we do the Gospel and those we can share it with a great disservice if we only see culture and jobs and welfare rates as the things being affected by immigration. Christians should, as they seek to formulate their ideas about these hot issues, at least consider that one of our first responses to people, regardless of who they are, is to give them the Gospel. It is why they have landed so close to us.