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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“No foreigner had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler.”
“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.'”
“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.”
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
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?!
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).
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.