Friday, November 21, 2014

Love for the Immigrant

"Do not oppress an immigrant; you yourselves know how it feels to be immigrants, because you were immigrants in Egypt." Exodus 23:9

This is a topic I have thought about a lot. This is a topic I’ve written a lot of blog posts in my head about. This is a topic I want to be very careful with.

As I seek to be careful, a few clarifying notes, I am writing to those who identify as followers of Christ. I am writing to those who believe the words of the Bible. I’m writing in the hopes that we, as the body of Christ, would be a people who can listen, who can empathize, and who can seek to be consistent.

And I’m hoping to keep this brief.

I have the least confidence in that last hope.

I won’t be taking a single policy position. I won’t mention any politicians or political parties. I have three key words: Command, Image, and Kingdom.


The verse quote above is not a proof-text (meaning, the process by which one grabs a verse out of context and uses it to prove their view). You can “prove” almost anything by prooftexting. Seriously, I’ve had conversations about Bigfoot where prooftexting was used. It’s not a good practice.
On this topic, however, the Bible is chock full of references. It’s not an ancillary topic.

In Scripture, the plight of the immigrant (possibly, alien, sojourner, or stranger depending on your translation) is deeply tied to the concept of justice. And the topic of justice is also by no means a sidenote. Some have termed there to be a group called the “Quartet of the Vulnerable” in the Hebrew Bible, it is made up of the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the immigrant. God’s people are commanded again and again and again to show particular care, compassion, and love to these groups.

Don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself. Follow this link to take the “I Was a Stranger . . .” Challenge, which walks through 40 key Biblical passages dealing with the immigrant.


To be human is to be made in the image of God. This image has been vandalized by sin, no doubt, but it remains. All humans, no matter their moral state, no matter their nationality, no matter their religious beliefs, and no matter their legal status still retain the image the God.

This means that the immigration issue in the United States of America is first and foremost not political nor economic, but theological. If it’s about people, and people are made in God’s image, we must train our minds and hearts and heads to see it that way.

This is about people. This is about image bearers. That doesn’t mean we will all agree. That doesn’t mean we will all be thrilled with the outcome. But it does absolutely rule out certain types of speech, thought, and posts on Facebook.

Don’t insult God. God made people. God put his image in humankind. When we malign other persons, we malign God.

Let us all strive to speak of God’s beloved creation as just that.


In two parts: as we assess important policy and human implications, let us all strive to ask ourselves, “What Kingdom am I living for?”

If our views are fueled by fear or by economics or by nationalism or by some view of racial superiority, let’s seek to check them.

All of us need to do this. (About every issue and decision too, not just hot-buttons.)

The reality is, if you are in Christ, your life is hid with Christ on high. Your life and your well being here matter to God, but His Kingdom is Supreme.

There’s a Kingdom called the United States. There’s a Kingdom called Economic Security. There’s a Kingdom called Self-Preservation. There’s a Kingdom called My Family.

All of them need to be secondary to the Kingdom of God.

Let us all ask ourselves, “Who is on the throne in my heart?”

(By the way, even if we prefer the American Kingdom, the numbers might not be what we expect.)

Second, Acts 17:26-27 reads, “From one man [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each of us.”

I believe God is sovereign over all things. Including the above. Immigration is a discipleship issue. God is moving and directing and placing people. He has placed millions of people in this country from all different backgrounds and nations. Perhaps he has placed them here to be discipled. Perhaps he has placed them here so that some of them might “reach out for him and find him.”

When they reach out, will we be a people who reach back and invite them to know Jesus?

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I sincerely hope all that I have written above is marked by humility. If anything written strikes you as flippant or sarcastic, I ask your forgiveness. I desire that anyone reading this would read carefully, prayerfully. I don’t claim to know that much, but what is written above about Command, Image, and Kingdom is a hill I’m willing to die on.

It’s that important.