Immigration, Law, and the Bible

immigration-law-bible

The immigration issue is more than just listing a bunch of bible verses, dropping the mic, and walking away in your self-righteousness. Because the Bible also says to follow the law.

I’m not going to list all the definitions about being kind to strangers. You’ve already been bombarded with them in every pro-immigration story on the ‘net. What I’m going to do is provide the opposing view to the immigration problem, which is also supported biblically, and I argue, more completely since it takes in both sides of the issue.

We also have to keep in mind that the laws were different in Biblical time, as well as the borders. When Mary and Joseph fled Israel for Egypt1, they left one Roman province for another Roman province. Was this considered moving from one country to another, such as a move from Mexico to the US? Probably not. It would be more like moving from Guam to the US mainland where you have a US citizen relocating from one territory to another. If Guam starting sinking, would those moving to the mainland be refugees (forced out by natural disaster)?

The important thing to note here, is that the border situations were different then, and the laws regarding refugees were different. When Jesus, Mary, and Joseph wound up in Egypt, they were not there illegally. And to the best of our knowledge, there weren’t people slipping in among them who weren’t going to conform to Egypt’s way of life, or trying to destroy it. I’m guessing they didn’t slip in the back door, and if they had to register with someone, I’m certain they did it. They also probably tried to blend in. In other words, they probably conformed to society as best they could, instead of trying to make Egyptians conform to them.

Definitions

When Jesus, Mary and Joseph went to Egypt, they became what many call refugees. This alone is enough for some people to say we’re not doing enough. So, first, let’s talk about the definitions of some words we find in the Bible, as well as a some in common use today.

Sojourner

someone who resides temporarily in a place.

The vast majority of illegal aliens that come here, are not here temporarily and have no intention of being here temporarily. Bible verses regarding sojourners do not apply to them.

The term would apply to Jesus, Mary and Joseph when they were forced to flee their home and move to Egypt. They had no intention of living in Egypt permanently, therefore, they were sojourners.

Refugee

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

What does forced mean? It means they didn’t want to leave, they had no choice. This is not true with most of the immigrants coming across the border from Mexico. They are leaving of their own free will.

There is no war, persecution, or natural disaster occurring to the south of the U.S. What is occurring is poverty and violence associated with criminals, organized or other. The definition of refugee is specific, and based on that definition, the vast majority of those coming across the southern border of the U.S. are not refugees. Calling them refugees is deceptive.

Jesus and His family met the basic definition of a refugee. They were forced to leave; they didn’t want to. They were targeted by Herod. All children under two became the target of persecution with the ultimate goal of killing Jesus specifically. They were forced to flee, which by definition, makes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph refugees when they went to Egypt.

The definition for Jesus and his family becomes sticky when we refer to the part of the definition that says: leave their country. As mentioned earlier, when you’re moving from one Roman jurisdiction to another, are you leaving your country?

Foreigner

a person born in or coming from a country other than one’s own.

To be clear, there are two types of foreigners: legal and illegal. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were foreigners living in Egypt, and I think it’s safe to assume, they were there legally.

Stranger

a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.

A stranger is anyone you don’t know. They don’t have to be a foreigner, and they don’t have to be here illegally. Interestingly enough, a foreigner doesn’t have to be a stranger. I’ve met people from other countries, and if they came to visit, they would be foreigners, but they would not be strangers. Actually, I’d love them to come here and visit, so I could show them around.

Alien

belonging to a foreign country or nation.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were aliens when they were living in Egypt.

So, by the way, are the people who are in this country illegally. They meet this definition since they are not U.S. Citizens, they belong to a foreign country or nation.

Illegal alien

a foreign national who is living without authorization in a country of which they are not a citizen.

As mentioned earlier, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph most likely had authorization to live in Egypt. We don’t know what the laws were, and they may have not been as complex as what we have today, but I can’t imagine the Son of God moved to another country and violated the law.

By the way, undocumented immigrants are foreign nationals living here without authorization; they are not citizens of this country; they are here illegally. The media is remiss for not using the proper term.

Immigrant

a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not immigrants. They did not, and had no intention on living in Egypt permanently.

Illegal immigration

“the illegal entry of a person or a group of persons across a country’s border, in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destination country, with the intention to remain in the country, as well as people who remain living in another country when they do not have the legal right to do so.2

Again, I think it’s safe to assume that they didn’t cross the border into Egypt in a way that violated immigration laws, if they even had any. They probably took the road, and the shortest one they could find.

Costs and Consequences

Risks of Crossing

The number of people who die, compared to the number of people who cross, is relatively low3, however, we can do better. The best way to do this is deterrence: get people to stop trying. While deterrence appears to have cut down on the number of people trying to make the trek, the number of deaths rose slightly, possibly because people are taking riskier routes. This should not be an argument to stop deterrence, but an argument to increase deterrence from illegal means.

Cost to the Taxpayer

Federal and State governments spend an enormous amount of money on illegal aliens when it comes to education, medical costs, justice expenditures, and welfare programs. As of 2016, FAIR estimated this cost to be $134 billion. To be fair, they also estimated that illegal aliens contributed about $18 billion, meaning that illegal immigrants cost the American taxpayer around $116 billion4. In addition, a recent estimate shows that there may be a fiscal net drain of $74,722 over the lifetime of each illegal alien5.

Cost of Enforcement

Since 1986, the federal government has spent $263 billion on immigration enforcement6, and it’s still a disaster. It is quite obvious that the current methods of deterrence are not working because people are still risking their lives, and the lives of their families, to come into this country illegally.

Crime and Prisons

Our prison system is full of illegal immigrants. 1 in 5 prisoners are aliens, and nearly 95% of those are here illegally. If my math is right, that means 19% of those incarcerated in American prisons are illegal immigrants7. Even if illegal immigrants don’t commit crimes at higher rates than native-born citizens, they shouldn’t be in our prisons because they’re aren’t supposed to be here in the first place!

The MS-13 surge that began in 2012 due to weak immigration enforcement can be directly related to the Obama administration8. MS-13 recruits members by preying on unaccompanied alien children.

Certain types of immigrants are more likely to commit violent crimes than others9. It’s a fact that many simply don’t want to accept, but even if it weren’t, it’s the government’s job to make sure that crime does not go up when allowing immigrants into the country.

Resources

Much of the discussion about immigration revolves around money, but immigrants use things other than money; they use physical resources.

We complain about a shortage of water, but we want to bring in more people? We want to have open borders. What effect do you think that would have on the water supply in the United States, especially when our border states are already suffering from severe droughts.

They will require more food, and they will produce more waste. We will need more jobs, and while the job market is growing, the jobs aren’t paying enough. So let’s bring more people in to take jobs that don’t pay enough. Is there enough housing, or will we have more tent cities going up? And we all know how safe tent cities are right?

Illegal immigration only exacerbates the issue.

Managing Immigration

Who Gets To Manage?

Immigration is a complex problem, and it’s not as simple as opening up the borders and letting everyone in. The country doesn’t have the resources to handle the influx, which is why the government needs to control the amount of people coming in, and quite frankly, it’s easier when it knows how many are coming in and can manage the growth of the country along with the growth of the population. Like it or not, the two go hand in hand.

“In Romans 13:4, Paul writes about civil government and states, “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.10

So, who should manage this? The states? While I certainly believe in states rights, I believe the power to determine the requirements for be a U.S. Citizen lies with the U.S. Government, just as the states get to determine the rights of state citizenship. I also believe that it is the Federal Government’s job, and responsibility, to manage immigration and it’s borders11. It’s also the law. There is nothing unjust about saying, you can come here, but we have set up rules in order to do this in an orderly fashion.

Asylum

There are hundreds of thousands of people trying to legally gain asylum in the United States and the backlog runs years12. If we didn’t put so many resources into combating illegal immigration, maybe we could redirect some of that towards the legal immigrants. Opening the borders isn’t that answer, because it’s a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands who are going about the process legally.

But a country that doesn’t follow its own laws, has to be questioned when it comes to justice. A government who doesn’t enforce its own laws, is being lax in its responsibilities. How does it determine what laws to follow and which ones not to follow. It doesn’t. A just government follows all the laws, until unjust laws are changed.

The government, in my opinion, seems to be in a very just position with regards to its immigration policies considering some of the logistics I have covered. That doesn’t mean it can’t do some things better, but I believe it’s doing the best it can with the resources it has. It’s simply overwhelmed.

Individual Responsibility

Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment. Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them]. (Romans 13:1-2 AMP)

Christians are instructed to obey the law. It’s not your decision to decide that you’re not going to disobey just laws enacted by the government. There is nothing wrong with wanting to vet people who are coming here, and limiting the number of people that are coming here.

There’s this argument that the laws of the U.S. Government are somehow unjust, and it’s the Christian duty to oppose them, and even break them. Given the complexity of the situation, and the overwhelming numbers, I feel that they are perfectly justified in their position, more so than the previous administration who didn’t execute the law. A government that doesn’t obey its own laws isn’t a just government, it’s a tyrannical government.

It is a violation of law to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, illegal aliens. It is a violation of law to hire them.

It is also a felony to encourage or induce an alien to come to or reside in the U.S. knowing or recklessly disregarding the fact that the alien’s entry or residence is in violation of the law13.

Despite this, states, cities, churches, and individuals, continue to knowingly break the law to protect others who are breaking the law.

It is the Christian’s responsibility to obey the law.

So, where does love fit into this?

Should we treat foreigners, refugees, and sojourner’s with love? Of course! But when the Bible talks about these people, does it mean ALL of them? While I would argue yes, it’s doesn’t say that we have to open the borders and let them flood in. It certainly doesn’t say ignore the laws that you’ve decided are mean.

How does this work practically? If you’re here illegally, I’ll give you some food at the same I call the authorities, and if I don’t trust the local authorities because I fear they’ll provide sactuary, I’ll call ICE myself.

See, that’s the thing. You have to do BOTH, and that’s what most Christians can’t seem to get a grip of. It’s one or the other, so they choose the easy way because it makes them feel good.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the US Government has its hands full. It’s overwhelmed by a problem that many Christians are only making worse.

The government’s control of the borders are a God given responsibility, and there’s nothing unjust about saying, you can come here, but we have set up rules in order to do this in an orderly fashion. I would argue that it’s their God given duty to do things in an orderly fashion.

There’s nothing just about contributing to lawlessness. Aiding and abetting criminals, and that is what these people are, no matter how you try to wriggle out with word play, or soften the harsh, realistic, legal language: illegal alien. There are repercussions for breaking the law, breaking statutes, breaking regulations; some harsher than others.

How can the Christian defend the immigrant who comes to this country illegally, risking their lives, and that of their families. How can a caring Christian defend them, and encourage them to continue trying.

There are over 300,000 immigrants seeking asylum in this country, and they’re doing it the legal way. Does the system need to be streamlined? Sure. Can it be made better? Of course. Maybe if we cut down on illegal immigration, we could redirect some of those funds towards streamlining the asylum process.

Christians, if we feel the laws are unjust, we need to work towards changing the law. There are processes in place for that. Christians should be model citizens. I’m confident that breaking the law, and encouraging others to break the law is not a the model God wants us to portray.

Note: This has been cross-posted from Medium where it was originally published 21 January 2019.

Image credit: unsplash-logoDebby Hudson


  1. Niles, Randall. Out of Egypt – Jesus’ family escapes to Egypt. Drive Thru History. Web. 2018 Aug 16. Accessed: 15 Nov 2018. 

  2. Illegal immigration.” Wikipedia. Web. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  3. US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says.” The Guardian. Web. 6 Feb 2018. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  4. O’Brien, Matt and Raley, Spencer. The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Web. 27 Sep 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  5. Camarota, Steven A. The Cost of a Border Wall vs. the Cost of Illegal Immigration. Center for Immigration Studies. Web. 15 Feb 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  6. The Cost of Immigration Enforcement and Border Security. American Immigration Council. Web. 25 Jan 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  7. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens—94 Percent of All Confirmed Aliens in DOJ Custody Are Unlawfully Present. The United State Department of Justice. Web. 12 Dec 2017. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  8. Vaughan, Jessica M. MS-13 Resurgence: Immigration Enforcement Needed to Take Back Our Streets. Center for Immigration Studies. Web. 21 Feb 2018. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  9. Alkousaa, Riham. Violent crime rises in Germany and is attributed to refugees. Reuters. Web. 3 Jan 2018. Accessed 15 Jul 2018. 

  10. Jesus Was Not A Refugee. Legal Immigrants for America. Web. 28 Nov 2015. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  11. Doak, J. Alan. What Does the Bible Say About Borders?. Reflection on Plumb. 13 Dec 18. Web. 

  12. Asylum in the United States American Immigration Council. Web. 14 May 2018. Accessed: 15 Jul 2018. 

  13. The Law Against Hiring or Harboring Illegal Aliens. Federation for American Immigration Reform. Web. Dec 1999. Accessed: 19 Jan 2019. 

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What Does the Bible Say About Borders?

What Does the Bible Say About Borders?

Should a country maintain borders, or should we do away with them? They’ve been a contentious issue over the last couple of years, so I thought it’s time to see if the Bible has anything to say about borders. It turns out that it does!

God Creates Nations

When God created the world, there was only one group of people. At first, everyone had descended from Adam and Eve. While they had established different cities and roamed about, they all spoke the same language, were of the same race, and they were all united.

Eventually, they started to migrate together instead of migrating in different directions, and set forth to build a city on the plain of Shinar, where they began to build a tower that would reach Heaven.

When God saw what a unified people would be capable of, he confused their language, and dispersed them around the world, effectively creating the races, civilizations, and nations that resulted.

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:8-9, NIV)

God Creates Borders

If God didn’t care about borders, why did He make sure that an extremely detailed description of Israel’s borders were included in the Book of Joshua? If you’ve read the Bible, you’d know how tedious–yes, I said it–it is to read the specific details of not just Israel’s borders, but how Israel was to be divided between the Twelve Tribes. Did you ever wonder why God provided such detail? Maybe it was to get your attention!

God Respects Borders and Boundaries

In the Old Testament, there are borders that delineate not only nations, but private property. In many cases these are identified by landmarks, and we are provided with a view of how God views the those who take it upon themselves to disrespect boundaries that have been set:

The princes of Judah have become like those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water (Hosea 5:10, ESV).

We see similar warnings in Deuteronomy 19:14 and 27:17, Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10, and Job 24:2.

Moses took the boundaries of a nation seriously enough that when the wandering Israelites wanted to pass through Edom, messengers were sent to the king to ask permission:

Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from a well. We will go along the King’s Highway. We will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.” (Numbers 20:17, ESV)

In the end, the king of Edom denied the request, and met the Israelites with a large army to make sure his rejection was adhered to. Did Israel complain to God? No, they turned away and took the long way around.

God Created Our Current Borders

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, (Acts 17:26)

Finally, we see that God is Sovereign over the history of nations, not just their physical boundaries, but their boundaries in time as well. In practical terms, this means that God put the starting boundary of the United States at 1776, and only He knows where the finishing boundary will be. It also means that He has put the northern and southern borders of the United States where they are, not man. It means that God has done the same with every other nation on Earth.

It is not the place of our government, or individuals, to disrespect the borders and boundaries of other nations, just as it is not their place to disrespect ours. To do so is to disrespect our Sovereign God.

Note: This has been cross-posted from Medium where it was originally published 13 December 2018.

Image credit: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

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Further Reading

Fisher, Bryan. The Bible and borders. RenewAmerica. Web: 9 Jul 2014. Accessed: 11 Jul 2018.

The Bible and National Borders. Bible Mesh. Web: 27 Oct 2015. Accessed: 11 Jul 2018.

Walker, Wes. SHOULD NATIONS HAVE BORDERS? A Biblical Response. ClashDaily.com. Web: 22 Aug 2014. Accessed: 11 Jul 2018.

Jesus Wasn’t the Rebel You Think He Was

Where Have All the Rebels Gone?

Every once in a while, I hear the claim made that Jesus was a rebel. And every time I hear it, it makes me cringe. I’ve read the Bible several times, and I have never walked away thinking, Jesus was a rebel. I’ve taken classes, and again, never walked away thinking, Jesus was a rebel. And after looking into it a little deeper, I’ve walked away convinced, Jesus was not a rebel.

While I’ve heard the claim from conservative and liberal thinkers alike, I’m making the assumption that the idea rose with liberal and/or progressive thinkers. Thinkers who tend to twist definitions, ideas, and ideologies to fit their own purposes without regard for truth and reality.

So, let’s start here. What is a rebel? According to the Oxford Dictionary a rebel is:

A person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or leader

Now we all can agree that Jesus did not lead an armed resistance against anyone, so the focus of this article will be on the idea that he rose in opposition, but to whom?

House Rules

It should be quite clear, from the start, that Jesus was not rebelling against God’s Old Testament Law. If God and Jesus are part of the the same Triune God, then rebelling against God’s Law, would essentially put Him at odds with himself. Simply put, this makes no sense.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus was sinless. He followed the Law to the letter, and told others to follow the Law. He told us that the Law would be fulfilled, but it would not go away, until God’s purpose was accomplished.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV)

In dramatic difference to what we see today, Jesus was obedient to His Father, even when He knew that it was going to get Him killed.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42 ESV)

Jesus did not rise against His family, or His family’s Law.

Civil Authorities

The Bible doesn’t record many interactions between Jesus and the Roman government or civil authorities, but we aren’t left clueless either.

The first instance is not direct contact, but rather, is a trap set by the Pharisees who want Jesus to either make himself look bad in front of His own people, or make a statement advocating breaking the law by not paying taxes. Jesus, however, knows their intent and answers brilliantly:

Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21 ESV)

Later, he is sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect in Judaea at the time. After interrogating Jesus, Pilate found him to be innocent, and not worthy of death.

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:38 ESV)

Apparently the government wasn’t impressed with Jesus’ rebellion since they found him innocent. When He finally was sentenced to death, it was because Pilate caved due to political pressure, and told the crowd so, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matthew 27:24).

Religious Leaders

The final group, religious leaders, are a little more interesting because I think this is where the confusion comes in. Without going into detail, the religious leaders we’re talking about were made up of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and while Jesus and they were in conflict, I don’t think it was Jesus who was rebelling against them, but they who were rebelling against Him.

The Jews had been anticipating a Messiah for thousands of years. When that Messiah showed up, in the form of Jesus, He wasn’t what they were expecting. Some accepted this and followed Him anyway, while others, particularly the religious leaders did not. They rejected Him, and yes, rebelled against His teaching.

Throughout the Gospels there are examples of the religious leaders antagonizing Him and looking for ways to discredit Him: He healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath; His disciples ate with impure hands; and His disciples plucked wheat on the Sabbath when they were hungry. Despite the fact that He healed multitudes, exorcised demons, and fed thousands, they still kept looking for signs, accused Him of being a drunkard, and accused Him of healing through the power of Beelzebul, instead of God. They failed at every endeavor.

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, they came after him with swords–remember our definition of rebel?–but he went willingly and cooperated. His apostles put up a brief resistance but Jesus told them to stop, and even healed the ear of one of the assailants whom Peter had cut the ear of.

He was taken to the Temple and put on trial complete with false charges. Why false charges? Because they had nothing on Him. If he were truly a rebel, they would have been able to provide real charges. After the kangaroo court, He was handed over to Roman authorities, where He met with Pilate, which I already discussed.

Jesus wasn’t rebelling against the religious authorities of the time. Sure, He pointed out their flaws, and their hypocrisy, but that was usually in response to their attacking Him first! That’s not very rebellious. I would say it’s more of defensive in nature, and much more effective, since His responses generally dealt with the specific situation at hand.

Conclusion

Nowhere in the Bible is Jesus described as a rebel. He is described as a Savior. Those who were in charge at the time rebelled against Him. He brought Truth, and they didn’t want to hear it.

Jesus was condemned by the liberal elites of the time for not conforming to their politically religiously correct values. He threatened their man-made authority, prestige, and highly educated sensibilities; they knew better than the uneducated. He was condemned by a kangaroo court. The crowd was whipped up by what only could be considered a flash mob.

But, are we really any different? From the time of Adam, man has rebelled against God in one manner or another. There have always been those who follow, and those who rebel. They tried to make Jesus conform to their version of the Law, instead of conforming themselves to God’s version of the Law. To this day, we’re still trying to make Jesus fit our image of Him: teacher, rebel, socialist, someone who loves us and our faults. He’s everything but a Saviour; everything but the Son of God; everything but the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Going back to our definition: A rebel is someone who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler. We can state with confidence, Jesus did not rise in opposition or armed resistance to anyone. The world has rebelled against Him.

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Note: This has been cross-posted from Medium where it was originally published 25 Nov 2018.

Image credit: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

‘Panicked’ London train commuters force open doors, flee onto tracks when man reads the Bible aloud

Commuter Train

When I first read this I thought this is from The Onion. This has to be a joke. Satire?

Witnesses described the scene as “panicked” and a “commotion.”

Sadley, it’s neither. It appears to be serious, and of all the news I’ve read in a while, this may be the saddest thing I’ve read in a while. A man on the subway was reading from the Bible, and people were panicked and literally jumping from a train.

I understand if you don’t believe in God why you may be upset, but panicked!? What exactly is it about the Word of God that would set a “non-believer” into a panic mode? It’s just a book right? Nonsense? Do people panic over Santa Clause stories? I know that the Bible says to fear the Lord, but I don’t think this is what the writer had in mind.

So, what exactly would cause people to actually panic over the Word of God? If you ask me, I think deep down they know there’s power in the Word of God, and they don’t want to be confronted with it.

Source: ‘Panicked’ London train commuters force open doors, flee onto tracks when man reads the Bible aloud

Does Jesus Care About Your Happiness?

You Don't Have A Right To Happiness

Jesus Doesn’t Care About Your Happiness. Okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but the concept is true. What He cares about is your joy, and there’s a big difference between joy and happiness.

We Care About Happy

We, as human beings, tend to care about happiness. We care about being financially secure, finding a spouse that we can be happy with, and living a long healthy life. We don’t like our feelings hurt, because that doesn’t make us happy; it makes us sad.

We care about material things.

We live in the moment, and our circumstances decide whether we’re happy or sad.

We’re concerned with how we feel.

Jesus Cares About Joy

I looked up happiness, or happy, in the Concordance of my ESV Study Bible. Do you know how many times it showed up? Zero. Joy is listed 16 times.

Jesus wants us to have joy, because joy is something that doesn’t come and go with our current circumstances. It doesn’t depend on our feelings.

What He cares about is your salvation.

Jesus cares about spiritual things. Jesus cares about eternal things.

Are You Asking For A Scorpion?

So, does that mean He doesn’t want us to be happy? Of course not. God made this universe and everything in it. There are a million things to enjoy, and we need to enjoy the things of God, but we’re not to abuse them. We’re not supposed to let those things get in the way of what we’re supposed to be doing.

We’re not here to simply be as happy as we can without a care in the world. We’re here to worship God. We’re here to make disciples from one end of the earth to the other. That’s what Jesus wants us to do.

Did you ever hear of taking up your Cross and following Him? What exactly does that mean? It means you need to crucify your flesh, as He was crucified. Crucifixion is not happiness; it’s pain, suffering, humiliation, and death. Crucifying your flesh is not fun. It’s giving things up. Doing without the things your flesh desires. Does that sound like Jesus is calling for happiness?

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

Jesus invites us to ask for gifts from God, but I think a lot of us have the wrong idea. Many people think this means we should get whatever we ask for, and God should be showering us with good gifts. But how many things do we ask for that we think are good, but God calls bad? We ask to win the lottery thinking that would be good, but God, knowing our heart, sees us asking for a scorpion.

I believe that God answers all prayers, but a lot of the time, the answer is “no.” Unfortunately, we don’t like that answer, ignore it and say, God didn’t answer my prayer.
What Are You Looking For?

Jesus doesn’t care about your happiness; at least not materially. And by that, I mean he’s not interested in making you happy with health, wealth, and popularity. Can He give you those things? Of course. Does He give people those things? Of course. But not all the time, and that’s not the goal. Who can say why one person seems to have it all, all the time, while the next has nothing? That’s God’s business, not yours.

Life is full of ups and downs and our happiness is going to follow those ups and downs. But if you have joy, your life shouldn’t be an emotional roller coaster. When your happiness is at it’s peak, joy is pulling you down, reminding you it won’t always be like that. When you happiness is in the dump, joy is pulling you up, reminding you it won’t always be like that.

What Jesus cares about is your state of mind, and what’s in your heart. He wants you to have faith! If you don’t have faith in Him, you’re going to suffer the ultimate misery. You need to see the big picture, and your happiness here, doesn’t mean squat if you spend eternity gnashing your teeth in unquenchable fire.

Bibliography

Happiness vs Joy.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web: 17 Jul 2017. Accessed 23 Jul 2017.

Wellman, Jack. 22 Aug 2015. “What Is The Difference Between Joy And Happiness In The Bible?Patheos. Web. Accessed 23 Jul 2017.

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