A gracEmail subscriber writes: “Please share your thinking on what a Christian perspective on aliens, illegal or otherwise, in our country should be. How should we feel toward them? How can we significantly minister to them? What political issues cloud the real issues for a Christian?”
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How can our Savior, our Scriptures and our faith shape our perceptions and responses regarding foreign-born persons among us? In the first place, they call us to remember how much we all have in common. The Apostle Paul said that God made every human being in every nation and determined the boundaries of their original habitations (Acts 17:26). However the biblical story makes it clear that peoples have been moving about from earliest times, by divine intervention and by personal choice (Gen. 10:1-11:9). Given the centuries of human history that have passed, one would be hard pressed to argue on any biblical basis that people today should stay forever in the lands where they were born. In fact, the story the Bible relates is itself a narrative of constant movement.
Salvation-history practically begins with Abram’s displacement from his homeland (Gen. 12:1-3) and it culminates in Jesus whose family fled as refugees from their own country shortly after his birth (Matt. 2:13-15). The sense of impermanence is so vital to biblical thinking that a band of pilgrims becomes a favorite scriptural figure for the community of faith (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 1:1-5). In fact, Jesus commissioned his apostles to go into all the world with his gospel, fully anticipating that they would sometimes be unwelcome but ready nevertheless to suffer whatever consequences might follow (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15ff).
Does it matter that our world is different from the one in which Jesus lived? Must we not be alert, especially since September 11, 2001, to radical and ruthless terrorists coming here from abroad? It is right and wise to be aware of enemies who wish to do us harm and to thwart their evil intent, as Jesus and Paul both illustrate (Lk. 4:28-30; Acts 23:12-24). God approves of governments protecting the innocent and punishing evil-doers (Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14). Diligent border security helps to fulfil those goals and enforcement of BOTH our borders ought to be a high priority. That said, we might remember that the airplane hijackers who ushered us into this new era of alarm had entered the U.S. legally although the legal status of several had expired before 9/11.