The status of EU citizens living in the UK is of great significance to our community in Bearwood and to the Bearwood Chapel church family. We are a congregation made up of many different nationalities. Quite a few, especially from our Nueva Vida congregation have come here from or via EU countries. So, when Britain voted to leave the EU, this raised great anxiety among them, would they be allowed to remain here and build a life or would they one day find themselves forced to leave.
For what it is worth, my personal view is that we should have very quickly made a commitment to give EU citizens leave to remain. Humans are not bargaining chips and in any case, this is probably the simplest, least bureaucratic way forward. But that’s not my primary purpose for writing here. Rather I want to talk about something far more precious that citizenship rights in the UK or the EU.
You see, immigration questions come up frequently in our context. Requests for advice or prayer on this matter are probably in my top five list of pastoral issues. It’s not just about people coming here for work, as well as EU citizens, we have many people coming here seeking asylum. They are looking for refuge and protection from corruption, persecution and abuse. Going back home doesn’t just mean losing an opportunity for a better life, it means facing further pain and even the risk of death.
My natural human response is that I desperately want to tell them it is all going to be okay. As much as we can, we try to help. We offer practical advice, we put people in touch with good solicitors, we link them up with our local MP. Where appropriate we write letters of support. We pray with them. We ask God that the truth will be heard and that the judges will show both justice and mercy. However, we cannot and must not promise that things will get sorted in the way they want and we hope for. I sometimes comment that I have no power or authority over the Home Office or the courts. Sometimes we realise that there is nothing we can do. Actually, although this is tough, it is good to be reminded from time to time that we are finite.
However, there are some precious promises that we can tell them about. These include that if they put their trust in Jesus then:
1. Where ever they have to go and whatever they have to face that God will be present with them. They can know the peace that passes all understanding.
2. That even should they have to face the worst, they have the certain hope in Christ that God will keep them safe through their circumstances and into eternity. They have assurance and eternal security.
““Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
You see, whether or not they are given leave to remain here or the rights of citizens, believers in Jesus have citizenship in a far greater place. We are citizens of heaven. Our security is not in the protections or rights that human governments can offer. Rather our security and status is in our heavenly citizenship.
– Heavenly citizenship means that we have access into the presence of the King
– Heavenly citizenship means that we are under the Kings’ care and protection
– Heavenly citizenship means that we have guaranteed permanent residency in His Kingdom.
It is great to be reminded that whatever the outcome of the EU negotiations that these thins will remain true.