The topic of immigration is without doubt a controversial issue facing our nation today. On the one hand, we have the group that says we should receive and provide for all who come to our borders. On the other, we have those who draw the line and build the walls and say it’s too much for our society to handle. So, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about the immigrant:
AVOID ILL-TREATMENT AND BE UNDERSTANDING: (Exo 22:21) “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Acts 28:2) And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.
PROVIDE FOR AS ABLE: (Lev 19:10) And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God . . . (Mat 25:35) for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in.
BE AN ADVOCATE FOR: (Deu 10:18) He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.
SEE THEM AS AN OPPRESSED CLASS THAT GOD HAS A HEART FOR: (Psa 146:9) The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow . . .
SEE THEM AS PEOPLE WHO HAVE A MESSAGE FROM GOD FOR US: (Heb 13:2) Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels (messengers).
RECOGNIZE PEOPLE OF FAITH WHO WERE STRANGERS IN A FOREIGN LAND: (1 Pet 2:11) Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. (I.e. Abraham, Joseph, Israel in Egypt, Ruth, Judah in Babylon, etc.)
It is quite obvious from these verses that God has a heart for the immigrant, and that we should follow in kind. But that doesn’t negate the initiative that might be needed to bring about reform and regulation in the area of immigration. That needs to be worked out by a society with just laws that benefit all (Acts 19:38; Rom 13:1-7, etc.). But the Bible emphasizes an individual response, not just a legal response. The forming of law and policy can coexist with a compassionate response to personal need.
I remember how even subtle discrimination felt when we were living overseas as missionaries. And to see how tough it was (and still is) for my son-in-law to immigrate to the U.S. Let’s try to be like God who balances His justice and love in a world of constant collision of ideals.