In my last post, I looked at a foundational question as it relates to our attitude toward immigration. As followers of Christ, do we love the immigrant? God specifically calls us to love the foreigner in our midst.
Often in the midst of immigration discussions, attitudes surface that need to be evaluated in light of God’s Word. I realize immigration is a complicated issue, and I’m not interested in trying to address it simplistically or politically. What I hope is that we think Biblically about these things.
One of the most common reactions is: “Why can’t they go back to where they came from? This is our country.” Let’s unpack that from a Biblical perspective. As Christians, we realize that nothing we have is ours. It’s all God’s. Not only our possession but also the country we live in, the land we live on.
Paul says in Acts 17:26 “From one man He 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 one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
God is the one who determines who lives where. You and I had absolutely nothing to do with where we were born, which significantly reframes the whole discussion about what is OURS.
We must remember that we are a nation of immigrants. For over two centuries, we opened our borders to people from other nations, and we did so without quotas and permission. Most of us are here today because of the immigration of our grandparents or great-grandparents. We are descendants of immigrants. We can’t now act like immigration never happened. It has happened and it has made us who we are. We are the recipients of this blessing.
A friend of mine told me about how when he lived in North Denver, some friends of his had moved there just a few years earlier. But as soon as they moved in, they helped form a committee to petition the city and county to adopt a no growth policy to keep everyone else away. Isn’t that just like the human heart? If we receive benefit, then everything is okay…but once we’re in, we want to make sure we keep others out.
And notice too from Paul’s words that the place we live is not nearly as important as the mission of God. God’s heart is for every person to embrace the gospel and experience r’ship with Him. Everything is viewed through the lens of that mission.
If we see ourselves first and foremost as Americans, the mission of God often gets set aside for a more nationalistic, self-centered response. “This is ours. You get out.”
But if we are first and foremost Christ followers, our ultimate desire is the mission of Jesus. So when we look at foreigners in our midst, our instinctive response is, “How cool! What a great opportunity we have to lead someone to Christ from another nation or ethnic background. They are coming to us! What an awesome thing for the gospel.”
Not only that, some of these immigrants are bringing with them a vibrant relationship with Jesus which we need. The American church needs revived, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying we are shouldn’t love our country. I’m so thankful for America, but there should be a deeper allegiance in all of us who say we are Christ followers.
Yes we are citizens of America, but we are ultimately citizens of heaven. Jesus is our ultimate allegiance. If not, we are idolaters who are worshiping our nation rather than Jesus. Nothing is to supersede our love for and allegiance to Him, not even our love of country.
In my next post I’ll address some more of the heart issues surrounding this topic. I’d love to hear what you think.