Friday, March 4, 2016

A Biblical View Of Immigrants:

The Bible does not directly answer questions about American immigration reform. But it does provide relevant information regarding immigrants and immigration more broadly. Four principles bear specific mention.

First and foremost, every human being is created in God's image and likeness (Gen 1:27). And every human being is offered salvation on the same terms, through the blood of Christ (John 3:16). This doctrine cannot be emphasized too often or clearly enough because it is often rejected or ignored in our society's public thinking. Whether the issue is abortion or race relations, immigration or sexuality, our cultural narrative threatens to create distinctions between those who are truly human and those who are subhuman. We resist this with every fiber of our being and trumpet the fact that every human being in our nation bears the image of God and is worthy of the dignity that entails.

Second, as believers, we live under Christ's great command to love our neighbors as ourselves. This command was first given to Israel (Lev 19:18) and reaffirmed by Christ (Luke 10:27). In fact, as was his custom, Jesus expanded the scope, so that "neighbor" included any person in need. To love our neighbors as ourselves is to act justly toward them and to be merciful to them (Mic 6:8). This sort of justice and mercy means not "turning aside" or "oppressing" the foreigner or stranger (Mal 3:5; Zech 7:10). It means treating them the way we would want to be treated were we in their situation (Matt 7:12). Whatever the specifics of our immigration policy, they should represent the fruit of just and merciful intentions toward our immigrant neighbors.

Third, God expresses a special concern for immigrants, and we should too. Throughout the Old Testament, God instructed Israel to leave portions of their field unharvested intentionally so the poor and the alien could glean there (Lev 19:10; 23:22; Deut 24:21). As God never tired of reminding Israel, they were to treat the foreigners among them with special compassion because they themselves had been foreigners in the land of Egypt (Exod 22:21; 23:9; Lev 19:34; Deut 10:19). Nor does the New Testament subvert this concern. As Paul teaches us, we believers were all similarly alienated-not from our native land but from God himself (Col 1:21-23). How can we, having once been alienated but now drawn close to God, view others with anything but compassion? And lest we need more motivation on this score, Jesus himself reminds us that the way we treat immigrants acts as a true test for whether we know him at all (Matt 25:31-46). When we oppress immigrants, regardless of their status, we persecute the Lord,

Fourth, when Christ returns to renew and restore the universe, we will rule over a kingdom that includes worshippers from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Our allegiance to God's kingdom then should be reflected in our allegiance to that kingdom now. We may be American citizens, but we are also aliens in this world, foreigners who belong to another country (1 Pet 2:11; Heb 11:13-16). We must remember that many immigrants will one day be-and in Christ already are-citizens with us in the city of God.

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