Immigration in two parts

What does the Bible say?

By Dillon Burroughs

Immigration continues to stand as one of the most controversial issues of our time, both inside and outside of the church. As Christians, our goal is to answer issues with "What would Jesus do?" But what would Jesus do about immigration?

Two principles can be found that provide the overall framework with which we can evaluate legislation regarding immigration related matters in our society. First, Jesus calls us to treat every person with dignity, loving our neighbor as ourselves regardless of how close the "neighbor" is. Second, Jesus affirms living by the laws of our land, a matter that touches upon laws regarding immigration.

First, Jesus called all people in the Greatest Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). When asked, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus did not specify a certain distance, but told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). At the end, He concluded we are to be like the Samaritan—helping the person in need regardless of other circumstances.

Second, Jesus answered questions regarding legal issues with the basic principle of obeying local laws. In one instance, Jesus paid both His tax and Peter's with the coin from the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:24-27). In another case, when asked about paying taxes, Jesus replied to give to Caesar what was Caesar's (Mark 12:17). These instances also affirm the teaching of the apostle Paul to obey governing authorities (Romans 13).

In terms of applications, every Christian in America can be encouraged to treat every person with dignity and love as well as to live and encourage others to live according to local, state, and national laws. Though there is certainly room to improve and reform current immigration laws as well as discussion for various approaches, these two principles do not change.

In answering, "What would Jesus do about immigration?" we can find a clear picture of what Jesus did do for immigrants. He came to earth to die for every immigrant and offered love to all people, including those different from Him. Today, He offers eternal life to every person, including every immigrant.

How should the church respond?

By Kersley Fitzgerald

Roughly 20% of all North Americans do not know any Christians--and it's mostly because of immigration.

The Great Commission says that we are to go into the world and preach the Gospel, but sometimes God makes it easy and brings the world to our doorstep. Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Shintoists, Sikhs, Taoists, Zoroastrians, and those who follow Chinese folk religions—between 65% and 81% who live in the US and Canada know no Christians on a personal level. Granted, these people groups often move into neighborhoods filled with residents of their own culture, but what an opportunity! Why go across the ocean to "teach English" for a clandestine missionary organization when you can go downtown?

Do we really care what the Bibles says about immigration? A believer's views on immigration should not be based on fear. Not fear of losing jobs or fear of crime and especially not a generalized uneasiness with a foreign culture. It should be based on the Word of God. Check out page 9 here to take the "I was a Stranger Challenge"—forty days of Scripture that relate to immigration as God sees it.

It's not all about illegal immigration. Amongst the immigrants who live clandestine lives, fearful of authorities, are those whose situation warrants legal amnesty. The church—filled with people from all walks of life—has the resources to help immigrants determine if circumstances in their native countries are such that American law gives them sanctuary. Many "illegal aliens" should be legitimate refugees—and could be if the church would help with language skills and legal knowledge. Many churches already do, but there's always room for more.

For more, see the Compelling Truth article.

Image 1: W.A. Foster; Bible Pictures; 1897; copyright expired
Image 2: Naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall, Boston; courtesy Aviad T

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Published 8-21-13