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Christians and Immigration

Immigration is a major topic in our society today.  There are a wide spectrum of views on the issue of immigration, from those who believe that we should have totally open borders, to those who believe that we should shut down immigration altogether.  There are good people all along the spectrum.  I am not going to spend a great deal of time discussing the merits of immigration policy.  It is my hope that our political leaders will gather the will and the courage to fix our immigration issues by crafting an immigration plan that will adhere to our moral standing as Americans, provide for our physical security, and help to maintain economic stability.  It is up to our lawmakers to fix the immigration problem, however;  Christians do have a role to play when it comes to immigrants. To fully understand the Christian role in dealing with immigration, we have to understand four important facts about this issue.

  1. The United States is a sovereign nation.

As a sovereign nation the United States has laws, and it has borders.  In order for a nation to be a nation, it must have both of these things.  Some laws are written to determine how the nation will enforce immigration, and how the nation will protect its borders.  Unless we happen to work for a government agency that is responsible for the enforcement of immigration law, it is not our responsibility as Christians to enforce these laws. It is the responsibility of the government.

  1. We must follow all just laws.

Christians are not called to be the enforcers of the law, however; we are called to obey all of the just laws of the society that we live in.

  1. Immigrants are people made in the image of God.

We must make sure that when we look at immigrants we see human beings who are made in the image of God, just like us.

  1. The Bible tells us how we should treat immigrants.

God makes it very clear in his word how he expects us to treat immigrants.

If we are going to approach immigration in a Christian way, we must look at it through the lens of these four facts.  The United States is a nation. We must follow the just laws of the nation.  We must remember that immigrants are people, and we need to treat immigrants in the way that God has instructed us in the Bible.

What does the Bible tell us about immigration?  Let’s look at a passage from the book of Leviticus 19:33-34

33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

This text clearly speaks to how followers of God should treat immigrants.  First, we are not to oppress them.  This means that we are not to mistreat immigrants.  God not only tells us not to mistreat immigrants, he tells us how we should treat them.  He says to treat them like one of our own.  The people of ancient Israel took this instruction extremely serious.  Even today in the Middle East many of the tribal cultures still live by this instruction.  If a stranger is in their midst they are treated with hospitality.  If someone takes a person into their home that person is treated as if they are one of the family.  They are protected.  God has called for us to treat the immigrants as one of our own.  We are to treat them as our brothers and sisters, and if they are a believer they are our brother or sister, however; whether they believe or not is irrelevant.  God is clear on how we should treat the immigrant among us.  If the immigrant among us needs food we make sure that they get food.  If they need clothing we make sure that they get clothes.  Plain and simple immigrants should be shown the same love of Christ that we would show any person.

Some people may ask, but what should we do if we know the person is in the country illegally.  The answer to that question is, we do nothing.  It is not our job as Christians to enforce the laws.  Let the government do that.  The hard part for some comes when we have to get out of the way and let the government do their lawful job.  Remember how I said that nations have laws and they have borders.  The fact is that sometimes people come into the country without permission or they stay longer than they were supposed to.  They have broken the law, and the penalty for breaking the law is often deportation.  We have to obey the just laws of our society, and although we may not like it, the fact is in most cases deportation is not unjust, therefore;  sometimes we have to step back and allow those who enforce the laws to do their job.  I must add that it does not serve any good purpose nor does it help immigrants to call the men and women of our border patrol and immigration and customs enforcement names, like Nazi for doing their job.  I would also add that this is not Christian behavior.  So let’s tone down the rhetoric and be civil.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of immigration law,  I think that all of us who are followers of Christ can agree that we should treat all of God’s children humanly.  Let us work hard to make sure that we do not get so wrapped up in the politics that we forget our calling as Christians.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

(Matthew 25:31-41)

The immigrant among us often falls into the category of the least of these.  We would do well to remember that how we treat them is how we treat Christ.  We would do well to remember that we are all God’s children.

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