Immigration continues to be a polarizing issue in America, first because of the Paris, and now the San Bernardino attacks. The lines are being drawn around the world. In the last few weeks, many governors have said they want to examine the immigration policies and procedures in place, before any more Syrian refugees are let in. Others have said outright, “No Syrian refugees!” So what are Christians to think?
At this time of year, it’s helpful to remember that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were themselves refugees who fled to Egypt to escape violence. But, before I give you what God says in Scriptures about aliens, and you write me off as a bleeding heart liberal, I’d like to frame my position, as follows;
I believe taking 60-90 days to make sure each state’s governor is confident that the U.S. government has a reasonably thorough process in place to sort out potential terrorists, makes a great deal of sense. Let’s be wise about potentially sloppy procedures, like the current visa waiver program.
God, in scripture never instructed his people us to take in enemy soldiers or criminals, only the hopeless, helpless and powerless.
However, no screening system is 100% effective and we, as Christians should not turn our back on the 99.9% who are likely true refugees, because we may miss a few who want to harm us.
It’s critical that we give priority to true refugees, fleeing war and religious persecution, as opposed to aliens who simply want a better life. Mercy should always trump the always present desire for a better opportunity.
We as a nation may suffer for being humane and kind, but Jesus never promised we wouldn’t. He expects his people to be willing to suffer for “the least of these.”
The U.S. is not Old Testament Israel. God’s instructions to Israel, about aliens are not binding on New Testament Christians. However, God’s heart for the poor and aliens is a theme that runs throughout the Old Testament and no serious Christian doubts that he no longer cares about these people.
This is not a “European problem.” There are literally millions of refugees living in tents, and others walking hundreds of miles to be safe. Christians everywhere should be concerned about them and be their advocates. They are our “neighbor,” regardless of their religion.
The issue of immigration reform is nuanced, and policies are often legislatively complex. But the wisdom of the Bible is both simple and timeless. Here are 12 passages that discuss how those who love God should treat immigrants, refugees and those in need of help. Please resist reading them like a legal document, looking for loopholes. Read them to hear the heart of God. Love Refugees As Yourself “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Leviticus 19:33-34
“He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” Psalm 72:13,14
God Loves the Foreigner Residing Among You “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19
Do Not Deprive Foreigners Among You of Justice “’So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:5
Do Whatever the Foreigner Asks of You “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.” 1 Kings 8:41-44
Leave Your Door Open to the Traveler “No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler” (Job, discussing his devotion to God) Job 31:32
Invite the Stranger In “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” Matthew 25:25-36
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:14
Have Mercy on Your Neighbor “He asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’
In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Luke 10:29-37
Note: Many of these verses were taken from an article on what the Bible says about aliens and refugees in Relevant Magazine. (http://bit.ly/1MYwLWz).
Summary Ask yourself this: Let’s just say a fully screened Syrian family came to your town and you and your church befriends them, but one of their older boys end up committing an act of terror, do you think Jesus believes, you made the wrong decision? When you stand before him, will he chide you for your carelessness, or praise you for your love?
Being a true follower of Jesus requires risk-taking. Faith without some risk isn’t Christian faith at all!
What Jesus thinks or commands, trumps all other considerations for true Christians!
How following Jesus works in real life.
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