In Isaiah 56 foreigners and eunuchs are given special assurances that they are included in God’s House. Their inclusion is actually given as an instruction to those already in the House. “Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say… Do not let the eunuch say…” they have no place in the House of God. Apparently those who felt assured that they had places in the House of God were saying something to these groups that gave them the impression they were not included. God says otherwise.
It seems strange that we would not welcome a foreigner who comes and says in effect, “I like what I see in you. I would like to be like you. I would like to join you in worship and in serving God as you do.” How can we take that as anything other than a huge compliment? Why would we treat that as a threat?
The turmoil over immigration issues in our political arena is a reflection of the attitudes within our spiritual houses. There are churches who have a narrow definition of membership. Privileges are given only to those who meet certain requirements. Some even issue ID cards so you can prove that you have been approved.
Frequency of attendance, amounts of contribution, acceptability of dress and even definitions of faith – all claim to have biblical foundations but are actually quite arbitrarily picked out from the pages of sacred texts. These membership requirements ignore other passages of the Bible such as Isaiah 56 that call for inclusion, as well as passages that call for rules that seem archaic or too difficult to follow.
As one who has felt out of place, an alien in a foreign land, I welcome words of assurance that I am accepted within a new group. Having a God that “rules heaven and earth” and tells me I am welcome means that wherever I am I have a place. The trick is not finding a group that accepts you but having a God that is greater than any group.