In my last two posts, we have been looking at the topic of immigration. As mentioned earlier, my goal is not to offer simplistic solutions or even political ones. Rather, I want us to make sure we are thinking Biblically about this issue. Often in the midst of discussions about this topic, attitudes begin to surface that don’t reflect the heart of God.
One response—which I mentioned in the last post—is why don’t they go back to where they came from. I think it helps to examine the reasons people immigrate.
Did you realize that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the children of Israel, Naomi, Ruth, Daniel and his friends, Joseph and Mary and Jesus, were all migrants at some point in their lives?
Some migrated to another country for food, for provision, for work. They couldn’t support their family in their current location. So they moved to where they could support their family. We would call this person an immigrant.
Others were forced to migrate because of conflict, war, survival. We would call these people refugees. But my point is that migration of this sort has been happening for centuries. It was very common in the Bible and has been very common ever since–huge migrations of people due to famines and wars and all sorts of factors.
Most people don’t like to move. They don’t like to uproot their family and go to another location, especially a different culture, where they speak a different language and the risk is greater for hardship and difficulty.
They move because they are trying to survive. Abraham moved to Egypt because of a famine. Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus fled their country because of a real threat to their lives. Most of those who immigrate to America are doing so for the same reasons found in Scripture—to survive, to provide a better life for their children and family.
When we have a knee jerk reaction, “Why don’t you just go back where you came from?” I’m not sure we have thought about the motivations of what brought them here in the first place. What would we do if we were in their shoes? If our kids are starving and our family is at risk of violence…and there is food and a job and safety across the border. What would we do as parents?
I see all the effort parents expend to get their kids on the best soccer team or in the best schools. (I remember getting up at 5:00 am and going to wait in line at the Rec Center to ensure that my son got on the “best” baseball team.) Can we really blame someone for wanting to get out of poverty and instead provide food and education for their children?
Let me reiterate—I’m not making a political statement here about border security, immigration laws, etc. I’m simply wanting us to look at this issue more deeply than a knee jerk, “Go back where you came from,” response.
Compassion moves us to see beneath the political rhetoric and instead to see real people who only want to help their family survive and thrive.