I’ve written about immigration in the past but in light of current conversations among presidential candidates along with the rhetoric bouncing back and forth in the media about “illegals” replete with pejorative labels like “Anchor babies” and other offensive racial slurs, I couldn’t help myself. I had to make a few comments of my own.
Two things I won’t do here. If you want to know the shocking statistics on worldwide migration you should Google those on your own. I feel like we’re already pretty well numbed by the numbers of migrants and refugees – and by pretty much any other social crisis in our world. We’re slowed to stasis by statistics. It’s too easy to think of immigration as an issue, as just a problem to be solved by someone other than us, rather than as fellow humans displaced and dying in need of someone to care.
The other thing I won’t do is to weigh in on the economics or politics of our current immigration predicament. If you know me you know that I’m no politics junkie. It’s not that I don’t care about public policy or my civic duty to vote my conscience. I have opinions on moral issues that are debated in the public square and about the legislation developed in our democratic process. But I make every effort to have my opinions informed and shaped by a biblical worldview rather than by any sort of party affiliation or personal agenda.
For all I know your politics and mine may well be miles apart, but if you call yourself a Christian and believe that the Bible comes from God then I encourage you to put aside any predispositions you might have on the immigration issue and just listen to what the Bible says about how we’re supposed to treat our neighbors from outside of our borders. I could well be wrong in my interpretation of Scripture on this and would very much welcome any pushback you might offer on that level.
But let’s do try to keep this particular conversation on immigration on that level. Don’t ask me how to pay for it or at what pace we should permit immigrants in, or on what basis they should be let in. I’m not smart enough to know how to implement it, I just believe we Christians ought to see this, and every other issue for that matter, through the eyes of Jesus.
Besides the politics, if your default is to cite red herring cases where an immigrant committed a crime or bilked the system, I’d recommend that as you consider this issue you remember that when they tried to trap Jesus with a hypothetical red herring he responded, “You’re wrong because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29 To my mind, Christians have forgotten to include what God says and what God wants in our rants about politics, the government, and social issues. As a result, we don’t act or speak very christianly in front of an on-looking culture.
For the believer, politics follows theology, not the other way around. As difficult as it may be, I try to adjust my social conscience to match the Word of God rather than bend the Bible to suit my notions about the way the world ought to work.
There several reasons it’s a good thing that I’m not running for President in the next election, not the least of which is I don’t have to come up with a solution to the complex problems of immigration. I admit that I wouldn’t know how to sort out where we go from here. But in case whoever is elected consults me for advice, I’d have to say, “I don’t know what to do but I know where I’d begin – with what God says and with the way he is.” Since it’s unlikely that I’ll receive such a call, I thought I’d share these things with you, so you can field any such requests from our country’s leaders.
Which determines how we view our fellow humans, partisan rhetoric or a kingdom way of living here on planet earth? How we think, speak, and vote has to be influenced by those values that we derive from our faith. “Vote your conscience” is a valuable cliché. Problem is, where does our conscience get its information – FOX News, NPR, or the Bible? I’m all for getting the news from our favorite sources, but when it comes to shaping our fundamental value system, for the follower of Jesus, that job has got to be farmed out to Jesus. Right?
“Our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom transcends the differences in our earthly nationalities. As Christians think about Hispanic immigration, our approach must be grounded in that citizenship. And the courses of action we recommend must be in line with biblical teaching.” Daniel Carroll
We should peer through the lens of Scripture and develop biblically informed consciences rather than parroting the politics of shock jocks and evocative propagandizers. As we do we’ll notice that while God’s Word doesn’t provide detailed guidelines on each sociopolitical problem, it does give us a backdrop for how we’re to live together in God’s world. And though I propose no simple solutions to the “border crisis” I do offer a reminder about how God tells us repeatedly to love our neighbor and care for immigrants along with widows, orphans, and the poor. So, the question is how do we shape our attitudes and opinions about immigrants – or anything else for that matter – by God or by greed?
“No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler.” Job 31:32
Other posts that might interest and/or antagonize you:
“On being neighborly”
Don’t come to my house
I also recommend a workbook designed for small groups to study and discuss the immigration issue from a biblical perspective As the Citizen Among Us (Loving the Immigrant as Ourselves) by Rebecca Baik
Your thoughts about wall building?