God & Immigrants

Oh, boy. Everyone is fighting over immigration, why not jump in?

But actually, we don’t think you should care about our opinion. Really, you shouldn’t – we should all care about God’s opinions.

So we’ll not make a specific political statement or policy suggestion. Instead, here are things God said about foreigners, travelers, and strangers dwelling in our land. We should take these to heart – BEFORE trying to discuss immigration.

Jesus loves 1
Jesus loved. Everyone.

The laws we should make, limitations we should enact, how we should handle violators, the things citizens should get that foreigners should not, how we should treat those who “don’t belong here” (whatever that means) – all of these need to take a back seat to discovering God’s values.

If we take God’s values as stated in Scripture to heart BEFORE making our own opinions – specifically, before accepting our political party’s platform – the world will be a more charitable place. Because our God is one of love, mercy, and peace.

Jesus loves 2
Jesus constantly put himself beneath others.

As Christians, our political beliefs and values should reflect our Father’s. So without much ado, here are some thoughts God left us with:

“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. I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 19:33-34

“You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigners residing among you.”
Numbers 15:15b-16

“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

“No foreigner had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler.
Job 31:32

“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, do not oppress the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.'”
Zechariah 7:9

“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.”
Matthew 25:35

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2

Scripture is not only full of commands, but also examples. Rahab and her family were welcomed in (Joshua 6:17) as were many others through the books of Joshua and Judges. Boaz surprised Ruth, when he provided for her despite her being an immigrant (Ruth 2:10). God’s calling for Israel was radical in ancient times. You took care of family before clan and clan before tribe and tribe before nation and nation before foreigners – but God turned that on its head. Treat foreigners… equally?!

Jesus loves 3
No matter how lowly, Jesus loved.

He made all people His and demanded that His children (Israel then, Christians today) treat foreigners with respect, equality, and provision. He even reminded us we ourselves are spiritual foreigners in this world (1 Peter 2:11) – our citizenship is in heaven first, America second (Philippians 3:20).

Jesus often encountered foreigners and blessed them (Matthew 8:5-13; Mark 7:24-30). His final commission was to make disciples without picking and choosing from among the nations – all nations get the Lord (Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 24:14). He reminded His disciples that God valued foreigners even before Jesus came – the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian got God’s blessing when Israel got famine and leprosy (Luke 4:24-30).

jesus-and-child-jesus-7192958-800-693
All ages, all genders, all races. Jesus loved.

And when Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself” He explained that “neighbor” means “everyone – including perceived enemies and those you might risk getting hurt by helping – like wounded Samaritans in bandit territory” (Luke 10:25-37). We must still be like Jesus even when it costs us. Costs us our political belief or our money, our security or our pride.

All of these passages are about treating outsiders well. People who aren’t God’s people still have to be respected, loved, and provided for. Not only do they get to live among God’s people, but they are to receive equal compassion, justice, and provision. That actually sounds like a golden key to better evangelism – it might address why so many people stay away from faith groups right now. They don’t get the love and compassion and provision and equal, respectful treatment God commanded.

We can debate all day how caring for immigrants should be implemented in America. What we can’t debate is whether caring for foreigners is a concern of God. It is. Blatantly. Therefore it should be our concern as Christians. The craziest part of the national dialogue lately is that it is often Christians fighting against taking care of immigrants, refugees, and foreigners, with racist comments and prejudiced actions – sometimes even pretending like God agrees with them (Methodists opposing Jeff Sessions).

Again, I’m not making any statement about which policies are good, which are bad; which are godly, which are not; which should be legal, which should not. I’m simply stating what our attitude and value should be as Believers. “Taking care of foreigners” should be our starting point, even if we disagree on how to care for them. This is not the discussion I’m hearing from Christians, though.

So when talking with friends and family and strangers over the current turmoil in America over borders and immigration – keep in mind how much God loves foreigners and how much God calls us to be loving toward them. It is only after we accept that value that we should start tackling how to deal with complex issues in a way that honors Him.

10 thoughts on “God & Immigrants

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  1. It’s really interesting how my personal journey has changed since I started writing. I first thought that Christians were being corrupted by politics. Then I realized politics were being used as a platform for the corrupt in Christ’s name. I moved to more of a message about not being able to be both in a party and a Christian; they are not compatible. It’s basically oil and water. I called for abandoning politics, but again, more growth has come about this.

    I realize now that it isn’t politics that is bad. Jesus was incredibly political, if he wasn’t, no one would have wanted to kill him. Paul was always in prison, executed by the state, for being political.

    The main difference is their political party was of Christ. It’s a platform of love, not anger. It delivers hope, not fear. It offers hospitality, not hostility.

    Our message of love is incredibly political. It’s groundbreaking, Earth shattering, unnatural, unbelievable. It isn’t normal to love others as ourselves. It isn’t normal to think of others more highly than ourselves.

    As Christians, it is our responsibility to be political in message. The Gospel is a way of life, it’s THE way of life. We have to share it, but the message shouldn’t be filtered or distorted by partisanship.

    I personally appreciate your focus on what God says to us in his word. I know that people view politics as off limits, but politics is our message. If we don’t deliver our message, we aren’t spreading the Gospel.

    So, my current stance is to be political for Christ, but not for worldly partisan groups. When we filter all of the worldly and natural stuff out, we really are united in spirit. I follow many different denominational members that all speak the truth. God bless you Jared, I love reading your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love this, Colin. Because it reminds us that we DO have a calling to be a part of this world, to be responsible stewards, to be honorable governors – not to hide away in a hole until Jesus comes back. Yet we need to reframe the discussion – like you said, a politics of Jesus that majors on love, compassion, and peace. Unity of spirit truly comes from going back to the source of that Spirit. “When we filter all of the worldly and natural stuff out” – amen!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The countries where the people are coming from have American consulates and embassies where they can apply for asylum and not risk being separated from their families. God gave us government as a way to serve all people, preferably justly and with compassion. No government is perfect nor can it be if left in human hands. The Hebrews proved time and again that even under the governance of God Himself they would make a mess of it. The same people who believe America ought to act out of a Christian nature are the ones who scream the most about the dangers of theocracies. Don’t leave it to any nation to see to immigrants, prisoners or the needy but let Christians be the hands of God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely want to see more of this. Christians lately have had a tendency to outsource their personal responsibility to love on the least of these – to government, to schools, even to their church institutions. But each of us can reach out in love to those around us in a way that improves their journey in this world. God encourages us particularly to focus on widows, orphans and foreigners because He knows those are the ones we have a tendency to overlook.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was reading about what Sec Neilsen said regarding these kids. Out of 12,000 of them 10,000 were unaccompanied with their parents on the trip to America. These parents paid up to $20,000 for each child to travel with a stranger, many times known as ‘coyotes’ – those who traffic children for sex and slave labor. America is as a compassionate a nation as there has ever been or will be. We send young men to die overseas to protect others’ freedom and waste trillions of dollars doing which could be spent on domestic issues but when the president wants to protect the citizens his family gets threatened and others reveal names, addresses and emails of ICE agents to Antifa. Jesus tells us to be compassionate. We are. Jesus tells us to be smart. We get grief.

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      2. Do you think it is smart if I told you to loan money to someone who needs it without expecting repayment? Luke 6:32-36

        Jesus doesn’t tell us to be smart about who and why we help others. He tells us to love & give unconditionally as he does.

        Being “smart” comes from the desire to not waste what we have. Jesus calls on us to sacrifice all we have in this life for his sake. It is our nature and worldly ideas we subscribe to that tells us to be “smart”. I’m not claiming that I’m perfect here, I’m struggling with sacrificing my own comforts for others as well. But, we have to call it what it is. It is sin that triggers these thoughts.

        All of the books of the Gospel give a variation of this: Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever gives their life for Jesus will save it.

        I hope you understand and do not take this as an attack.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love this reply. I have found it hard in my own life to tell between when do you cross from having insane faith with willingness to risk – and folly. I do encourage people to step out though, especially when uncomfortable. But this is why there is a lot of diversity in HOW to handle immigration – where does disorderly, reckless loving need to be tempered with wise, organized loving? As long as everyone is approaching with love though, I’ll support them!

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      4. Yeah, unfortunately I suffer the same conflict. It’s a conflict because our sinful nature goes so deep, it is hard to determine where our love begins and our sin ends.

        What would you consider disorderly, reckless love? I think the problem here is we judge whether or not we love by our not actively wanting anyone hurt. However, in the case you send someone back to their country who came here illegally for help, you can do that in a respectful compassionate way. However, if their concern about being killed was valid and you didn’t help; did you really act in a loving way?

        I think our love is determined in the end by doing for the least despite all possibility of negative consequences. If you are worried about the consequences, you don’t have faith.

        I don’t yet have the faith to face death for Christ. I don’t have the faith to face the death of my wife and children for Christ. I don’t have the faith to give everything I have to those in need. But, my lack of faith doesn’t mean it isn’t sin that is preventing my doing those things.

        I fear, and that is anti-faith; Love is when we act in opposition to that fear that would hold us back out of self preservation. I want to have the faith to look at a man pointing a gun at me and care more about saving his soul than my life. Isn’t that Christ-like love?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Totally agree – we judge whether or not to love based on how much it might hurt us or our group. Reckless love would then be loving even when it puts you and your group at risk. I’m thinking here of taking an immigrant into your home – sure, they could steal from you. They could even murder you. Therefore, people quickly dismiss it as even a possibility. But all through Scripture we see God imploring people to take in travelers – and punishes cities like Sodom that put travelers at risk by leaving them outside.
        I love “Surprised by Grace” by Tullian Tchividjian – a man much in need of grace who has a lot of great things to say about it.

        Liked by 1 person

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