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Undocumented Aliens

by Tim O'Hearn

There is a lot said these days in the United States about illegal (or undocumented, if you will) aliens. Most people agree there is a problem, they just disagree about how to deal with it. In New Mexico it is compounded by another adjective: illegal, undocumented, or extraterrestrial. It seems that alien issues have plagued mankind throughout history.

Among the first recorded laws about aliens (the earthly kind) can be found in Torah. “Also you shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, seeing you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Ex 23:9) Other laws in history have been less favorable. (The Israelites apparently had no immigration laws, and therefore no illegal immigration.)

Some people take the opportunity to point out that unless we are of First Nations descent, we are all aliens in America. Whether it is a valid argument or not, it is not original. Paul was one of the first to use the “we are all aliens” argument.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Col 1:21-22)

This was not the only time he used this concept. Not surprisingly to those that know the parallels between Colossians and Ephesians, he said much the same to the church in Ephesus.

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:12-13)

There are aliens who illegally claim citizenship. That has been the big issue in the United States. Some aliens who have not been admitted to the country legally are (sometimes fraudulently) receiving benefits reserved for citizens, such as healthcare or suffrage. States that issue drivers licenses to non-citizens have been tasked with making the distinction between those people and American citizens.

In God’s kingdom, those who wrongly claim citizenship, even those that incorrectly think they have been naturalized, may appear to receive the benefits of citizenship while in this life. After this life, however, they may find that their alien status will finally catch up with them.

How could one think they have citizenship when they really do not? There are several ways. Some have been convinced that everyone is a citizen. They believe that God is so loving that he will not punish anyone, so everyone will spend all or part of eternity in His presence. They don’t realize that God’s love demands punishment for sin because it would be unfair to those who choose to obey to give the same status to those that do not. Others have been misinformed about the naturalization ceremony. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27) Others just want to wear the name without making any effort at becoming citizens.

It is our obligation to treat aliens and citizens with the same respect. God will make their status known soon enough. Since we were all aliens, we should not oppress those who are aliens indeed.