As Christians in the United States, we discuss both what our law our law and the Bible have to say about immigration and how that should/might affect immigration policy in the United States. A good number of Christians have lit on advocating leniency, amnesty and such like for illegal immigrants based on their conception of Jesus himself as an illegal immigrant. I find a much more convincing argument in the biblical passages that teach us to love our neighbors, to love our enemies, to treat others better than ourselves, and so on. How did Jesus, his apostles and his church treat others? What does that say about our treatment of immigrants – even illegal ones?[i]
The example of the Law of Moses
- Exodus 23:9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
- Leviticus 19:33-34 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
- Leviticus 25:35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
- Deuteronomy 10:18-19 he doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
- Deuteronomy 26:12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
Our Christian duties to all
- Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
- Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Cf. Hebrews 12:14)
- Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12)
- 1 Corinthians 10:33 even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
- Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
- Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
- 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
- Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Cf. 3 John 1:5; Romans 12:13)
- James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (Cf. 1 John 3:18)
- 1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Our Christian “otherworldliness”
- John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world...
- 1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
- Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Cf. Deuteronomy 26:5)
- Hebrews 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
- Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
- Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
The example and sayings of our Lord
- Matthew 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
- Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
- Matthew 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
- Matthew 25:35-40 for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
- Luke 4:16-19 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
- Luke 13:14-16 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? (Cf. Luke 14:1-6)
- Luke 15:1-2 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. (Cf. Matthew 9:11; Mark 2:15)
- John 4:4-9 And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. (See also 4:27)
- John 5:10-11 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
The character of God
- Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
- Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
- Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh…
- Zechariah 6:5 And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.
- Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
- Acts 17:26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
- Romans 2:11 for there is no respect of persons with God. (Cf. James 2:9)
- Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
- Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
- Ephesians 6:9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
- Colossians 1:16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
To be continued (d.v.)
[i] Sometimes there can be a disconnect in what we can do individually as Christians, and what a government chooses to incorporate as law concerning immigrants. As Christians, we are responsible to act as Christians and obey God regardless of what government does (Acts 5:29). That said, it is not always an easy choice to light on where to draw the line in obeying and disobeying government.
[ii] Immigrants [noun] are persons who leave their birth countries to live permanently (or long-term) in a foreign country – in hopes of having a better life, often for economy-related reasons.
[iii] Refugees [noun] are persons who have been forced to leave their countries in order to escape war, persecution, violence or natural disaster. They usually have a reasonable or active fear for their persons because of their race, religion, etc. – have left their countries for such a reason and fear to return home for the same reason.