"...remember that you were slaves..." Deuteronomy 23:18
The nation of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years because of their rebellious nature. God judged AN ENTIRE NATION of over one million people by His authority over sin. Sin is simply insisting on our way over God's way, our will over His will. After forty years, an entire generation of new Israelites were brought into the world; and during those years the rebellious generation that had been freed from slavery, witnessed the plagues of Egypt, walked through parted seas, seen the destruction of the Egyptian army, and seen the miraculous provision by God on their journey to the promised land all died as their judgment for not trusting God with the ability and might to enter into the land and vanquish its wicked inhabitants. In fact, other than Moses, only two citizens remained alive who had been twenty years of age when they left Egypt: Joshua and Caleb. (Nu. 32:11)
As they were preparing to enter the promised land, Moses instructed the nation's leaders to follow the ten commandments and then provided civil laws for legal disputes in the new nation. The elder Moses provided clarification to promote a society that was meant to practice good and moral living. He reviewed the practice for their national holidays, the proper treatment of the Levitical tribe, recognizing false prophets, implementing cities of refuge for accidental or unintentional homicides, logistics to follow before going to war, criminal and civil law, as well as regulations and expectations for their worship and piety, From time to time in the discourse Moses instructs the people to never forget that they were once slaves. In today's simple phrase, Moses instructs the nation to provide true justice to foreigners living among them, and to the widow and orphaned children. True justice included providing for the poor who would work in the fields and orchards after the harvest, gathering the leftovers. True justice treats all people equally, giving people an opportunity to improve one's life.
How would such instruction benefit us in today's world? First, we should never forget that we were once slaves to sin. (Jn. 8:33-36; Ro. 6:17-23; Ga. 5:1) We have been freed from sin's chains and are given the power to be over-comers to live victorious lives, allowing us to experience life to the fullest. (Jn. 10:10) By recalling our fallen nature and celebrating our new life in Christ, we might be less inclined to judge others harshly and seek to reveal another's impropriety through gentleness and grace... not through humiliation and intimidation. I know I am guilty of the latter and seek to build bridges with others through a gentle loving discourse, as hard as that is to do in this post-modern/post-truth world.
Secondly, we should ponder and pray about our own prejudices toward foreigners who may legitimately be in our country to escape mistreatment, corrupt governmental leaders, despots, etc., to seek a better life elsewhere. Given the increasing refugee problems happening in Europe, it should be evident that the same is coming to our shores. Our treatment of these people groups will tell a lot about the faith and practice of Christians who are called to show the love of Christ in a lost and dying world. After praying over our shortcomings concerning others who do not have the same skin color or religious practice, we should determine to present our lives as conduits of Christ's love to others we may meet, even becoming intentional at reaching out to others in an effort to build bridges of reconciliation - in the hopes of reaching others with the good news of Christ's love and sacrifice for us.
There are some excellent efforts being made to connect to this new wave of immigration: offering ESL classes at your church; welcoming newcomers with a simple gift, tracts in their own language (Pastor Tony Ghareeb offers some excellent tracts to reach Muslims arriving to our shores. You can reach him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.); and discussion cafes are quickly becoming another excellent tool for evangelicals to connect with both immigrants and their own community (see: http://lifetreecafe.com/what-is-lifetree/ ).
Remembering I was once a slave... thanking God I've been set free.