I live in a city that is committed to providing sanctuary to anyone who is not a documented citizen. We’re told all are welcome. My city has pledged to open the doors to all peoples regardless of immigration status. They want to provide opportunities to everyone who lives in this fair city. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually. I’ve read that there is no legal definition of a sanctuary city. Each city can create their own definition. Sounds convenient to me. So that means my city doesn’t come right out and declare sanctuary. But the mayor’s executive order from a few years ago reads pretty clearly. If you ask me.
Sure. Our city has been filled with immigrants and refugees since the day the city was founded. What major city isn’t built that way? But what happened to honesty and fairness? What happened to standing in line and waiting your turn? Some good things take time and effort. Not everything should be a free giveaway. In our latest election cycle, an issue to stop non-citizens from voting in local elections was on the ballot. The citizens of this city voted to allow only citizens to vote. Non-citizens must become citizens in order to have a legal say in the laws and leaders of this city. And rightly so.
Sanctuary means that anyone has the opportunity to reach for success. To get a job. Have a family and provide for them in assumed safety. Anyone can pursue a higher education and reach for their dreams. It means that those who are exiles will be treated the same as those with lifelong citizenship.
What if all followers of Christ lived in a city that decreed everyone live in opposition to biblical beliefs? What would happen to those whose politics leaned the other way? What if all dissenters of the current establishment moved away? What then would happen to the city? Would it implode in lawlessness and anarchy? Would terrorism completely reign if all believers in Jesus Christ moved to a “safe” place? I doubt that everyone would get along just because the Jesus freaks were out of the way. People can always find a reason to disagree. And if the law is that there is no law, then anything and everything is fair game.
So. As believers, do we run and hide? Do we leave the cities and states that are leaning politically toward an agenda that stands against Christianity? Do we run to avoid all controversy and persecution? Do we stay and stand for biblical values? Do we stick around in hopes that our faith can be a shining light in a world gone dark?
We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 that once the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, basically all hell will break loose. Satan will be able to wreak havoc on the earth. For a short period of time. But today isn’t that day. We believers are still on this earth. And we still have work to do. We must continue to share the good news of salvation. And we can’t run when faced with opposition. We must stand strong for truth and be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have.
And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:4-7
When the Jewish people were taken captive to Babylon, they had no choice but to be uprooted. They were forcefully led from their homes and marched to a new country that had no belief in God. Their new home was not founded on the law of Moses. It was founded on idol worship and human sacrifices. This new land had no fear of God or his people. They were the ones to be feared. That’s what they thought. And they took their enemies captive for seventy years.
This captivity was approved by God. He allowed his chosen people to be punished for their sins against him. They had ignored him. They had forgotten him. Overlooked him. In an attempt to run their own lives, they chose to walk away from his hand of blessing. And it backfired on them. Big time. Sure. The backfire was many years in the making, because God is slow in exacting judgment. But the day had come. God had given his people a final warning. A final chance at repentance. And they still rebuked him. God allowed his people to be taken captive to a foreign country by a foreign king for seventy years.
But in their punishment, God didn’t forget them. He gave them a command to live their lives. To build homes. Marry. Have children. Eat well. Prosper. Although the Israelites were the outcasts, God implored them to live their lives well even when they lived in opposition to their captors. They were foreigners in a distant land, but God had their best interests in mind. They couldn’t run away from the fact that they were prisoners. So God commanded them to enjoy their lives.
The same rule applies to Christ followers today. We are living in exile on this earth. This world wasn’t meant to be our final destination. God has so much more planned for us in eternity. But while we’re on earth, we must do well. We must keep in mind that this isn’t our forever home. But we also mustn’t be intimidated by those we disagree with. We must be in the fight for truth. We must be in the fight for God-centered families and businesses. We must be in the fight for the appropriate education for children. We must learn how to counter strategies to brainwash vulnerable children and adults. We can’t do that if we run and hide. We won’t accomplish any change if we run only to safe places. We must stand and be accountable. And we must hold others accountable.
Not everyone can run. Not everyone can leave their job. Their city. Not everyone can pick up and start over. Perhaps we are the ones to stay behind and stand for doing the right thing. Perhaps God is calling us to stay and fight for truth. Because truth is always right. Even if there’s a cost.
We must make sure we’re following God’s lead when we decide to stay or go. He doesn’t call everyone to go somewhere new. He calls some to stay put and live courageously when no one else is. We can’t always take the easy way out and call it God’s will.
Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Philippians 1:28-29