World-wide hate crimes and acts of terror are increasing the need to relocate people to safer locations. Along the way, one word seems to guide the conversation – fear. While uncertainty is no doubt a major cause of fear, Christians should have nothing to fear.
In fact, Christians should be embracing immigration and welcoming refugees. Here are seven thoughts to consider:
1. Refugees are seeking help.
Just like Joseph’s family fled to Egypt for famine relief (Genesis 46-47), and Jesus’ family searched for refuge in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), many are looking for help in our world today. Their beliefs and values don’t always line up with ours, but their need for safety is more than real.
2. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear.
We’re called to spread the truth and grace of the gospel without fear. We should be unashamed of God’s grace, and pursue love and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7). If we have the opportunity to love others, we should do so.
3. It’s not about us – we’re called to selflessness.
We can quickly play the “national security” card, but if we were honest with ourselves, we would know we need to put the needs of others before ourselves.
“In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to [your] own interests, but also to the interest of others…Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God…but made himself nothing…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8, ESV)
Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary.
4. We need to love others, even when it hurts.
It doesn’t matter who it is or what background they may come from, a person in need is a person in need. Jesus said the two greatest commandments include “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He used a parable to describe a man who loved and helped another man in need despite his differences. (Luke 10:25-37)
5. We’re called to welcome “strangers”.
From the Old Testament to the New, the call to love “strangers” and “sojourners” has never ceased. God reminded the Israelites to love strangers because they were once strangers in Egypt themselves (Deuteronomy 10:19).
Paul describes a true Christian as someone who seeks to show hospitality, lives in harmony, and even loves their enemies to the extent of meeting their needs (Romans 12:9-21). The reach of hospitality should be fully extended.
The Hebrew writer even reminds us that, in our hospitality of strangers, some have actually entertained angels (Hebrews 13:2). In our fear, have we ever pushed away God’s messengers?
6. We were all once “aliens”.
From a theological perspective, all Christians were once “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12).
Through Christ, however, we are one body. It really doesn’t matter what the religious intentions of refugees may be – God loved us before we loved Him. God provided a way for us to become united when we were all strangers to the Kingdom. Why should we fear those seeking peace?
7. We’re called to show God’s accepting love.
James wrote, “Faith by itself, if it does not have [good] works, is dead” (James 2:17). We can believe in God, belong to the Kingdom, and be a “Christian,” but if we do not physically meet the needs of those around us, “what good is that” (2:16)?
I know we have to be responsible and ensure we are actually meeting legitimate needs in the world, but any true follower of Christ should fearlessly pursue the act of welcoming and helping refugees as the need arises.
This is not to say that the less fortunate in our own hometowns should be ignored. Jesus is calling us to “make friends” with our “worldly wealth” (Luke 16). That means to consistently help those with less to the point of unity – bringing people out of poverty, helping those in the community, and pointing people to the truth of eternity.
Viewing the immigration of refugees selflessly, and not selfishly, is part of the very essence of the Kingdom! I pray we can release our selfish conservative nature and engage in true ministry.
How do you view the immigration of refugees? Is there a difference between government policy and Christian responsibility?
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