Thoughtful Engagement on Immigration

A few days ago I posted a blog expressing some of my frustration regarding what I perceived as some callousness on the part of evangelicals toward immigration. It provoked some discussion, mostly offline, among friends. Having some time to reflect, I realized that my post was written in haste, with little editing, and didn’t serve to edify. So I pulled it.

That being said, God is really working on my heart on the issue of immigration. I really feel this is an issue we need to approach with a Great Commission perspective.
Increasingly, the nations are coming to us, here in America. Most evangelicals I talk to consider this a welcome thing, an opportunity for evangelism, building community, and greater diversity in the body of Christ.

For some, it is a bit of a threat, as they see the fabric of their neighborhoods change. I really think this issue is going to challenge Christians in the coming years as we address this global reality.
I’m also being challenged about the plight of the undocumented worker. This is a very difficult, complex issue and there are good people on both sides. I think, increasingly, Christians are viewing the illegal immigrant as someone for whom God cares and loves and that as followers of Christ it is our job to minister and love them because they were made in God’s image. We should treat them no differently.

And we might use our platform to advocate for a just solution to the situation, for more effective border control, more simplified immigration system, and a good solution to legalize and humanize the undocumented workers who are here.

I’m stilly trying to learn more about this issue, especially as it relates to the church’s role in serving immigrants in our midst, but here are a few thoughts on the issue:

  • I believe Christians have to affirm the rule of law. Imagine leaving your front door open and allowing people to run in and out of your house. I would be a terrible father if I was lax in ensuring that my family was protected by sealing the “borders of my house.” Sealing the U.S. Border is a bit more complex than that and the government has struggled in doing it. Again, Christians are for law and order. Romans 13 and other New Testament passages are pretty clear that God has ordained government to enforce the law because man is sinful and prone to evil.
  • The Bible also has much to say about the immigrant, even the alien.” So while we affirm Romans 13, we must obey the Bible’s admonitions to care for the immigrant, within our midst. A few passages to ponder are: Exodus: 12:49; Ezekiel 22:7; Deuteronomy 24:19-21.
  • Christians should also strive for a balance of grace and truth. This was the heart of Jesus’ ministry. We’re not just about “law and order”, we’re also about grace. We should speak with grace about this issue.
  • We must remember that God loves the illegal alien. They are precious souls in his sight. His Son, Jesus Christ, died for the alien just like He died for me. The offer of salvation is open to him as it is to me. And I think as Christians with a worldview of wanting to see the gospel spread to all corners of the globe—we can’t hate the illegal. We should want to introduce him to the gospel. That doesn’t mean we should have a porous border. Again, there are laws that the Bible call us to uphold. However, we should pray for the welfare of these men and women. We should care for their safety and the safety of their children. And we should advocate the most humane way for them to go through the process of legalization. We should also advocate for a less complex immigration system, something people on all sides of the issue seem to want. We should realize there are human beings involved, families, etc. So a radical policy of removal might work to break up families unnecessarily.
  • Christian businessmen should refuse to exploit the illegal alien workforce for cheap labor, regardless of how common it is, how much it will increase margins and profits. The Bible is clear that the “laborer is worthy of his hire.” Christians should lead the way in paying market value for their employees.
  • The bottom line is that this is a complex issue, but Christians should a) not shy away from engagement and b) should look for ways to reach out to the immigrant for the purpose of demonstrating Christ’s love through the gospel.

I’d love to see your input. How are you engaging this issue?