We are a nation of immigrants. At our best, we have told the world, “ Give me your tired, your poor, your struggling masses yearning to be free.”
But in the last two years plus, our president has labeled would-be immigrants as rapists and druglords. He has separated children from their parents. He has made it difficult for people to use their legal right to apply for refugee status.
The number of refugees allowed into the US by Pres. Obama in his last year in office was 110,000. But by last year, Pres. Trump had cut the number to 30,000. And for next year the number is a mere 18,000.
Does the Bible have any wisdom on this situation?
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly commands God’s people to have a special concern for the “stranger’, the “alien”-- that is, the people who are not citizens. That means refugees and immigrants! Why? Because God loves the stranger and because the Israelites should remember how terribly they were treated in Egypt as non-citizens. “ For the Lord your God… defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”( Deut. 10:17-19).
Jesus was a refugee. And in Matthew 25 Jesus condemns people to eternal separation from God because “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in” (v. 43).
I do not think a nation is obliged to welcome into the country everybody who wants to come. A great deal (but not all!) of the wealth of the United States has been created by the work of US citizens. We are not obligated to invite to come here all of the 7 billion plus people in the world. So we need wise, just immigration policies.
According to the Bible, however, God constantly demands that people share with the poor. Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus shows how seriously God views rich people who fail to share with the poor.
Every person in the world is my brother and sister because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. And because we are all “God’s offspring” (Acts 17:29). The Bible summons us to treat every needy immigrant in a way that reflects the biblical truth that every person in the world is family.
There is nothing sacred about current national boundaries. They are the result of wars-- often fought because of human greed and pride. An American nationalism that thinks only about the benefits of our nation is --from a biblical standpoint-- heresy and idolatry.
Biblical people must tell the world that current US immigration policy contradicts what the scriptures teach. And we must act vigorously to change it.
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