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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But what about the flood of emigrants who enter our country illegally, then drain our educational and social systems dry? The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates the number of illegal aliens at eight million in January 2000, increasing by a half-million each year since. The actual financial effects of these illegal entrants is a social and political consideration of grave importance about which expert opinions widely differ. Unquestionably, the U.S. lacks the financial resources to provide birth-to-death benefits without charge to an unlimited number of foreign nationals who might prefer to live here — whether those people enter legally or in violation of the law.
Local, state and federal governments have the responsibility of grappling with such problems and for finding solutions. However that works out, as men and women in service to God’s kingdom we have other abiding concerns. Jesus himself taught that the second greatest command, surpassed only by the requirement to love God supremely, is to love one’s neighbor as one’s self (Matt. 22:34-40). When we look at the Old Testament passage which Jesus quotes, we discover that the “neighbor” spoken of includes the resident foreigner as well the native-born citizens (Lev. 19:18, 34).
Jesus further amplified this command in his Parable of the Good Samaritan, concluding that our basic duty is to BE a “neighbor” — which means mercifully helping anyone we encounter in need (Lk. 10:25-37). Such acts of mercy, this story reveals, matter even more to God than fulfilling ritual religious obligations. This also is confirmed by the example of Jesus himself, who went about doing good — not obligated by any merit on the part of the needy but rather motivated by his own compassion and zeal for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
God’s people living in any country on earth (and gracEmail subscribers are found in nations fully around the globe), we are called to behave in a neighborly manner to those who are our neighbors. We do this by serving the needy, in keeping with our opportunities and resources as led by the living Spirit of God — whoever these neighbors might be, regardless of where they were born and without regard to their legal status. In this way we follow Jesus the ultimate Alien who graciously gave himself wholly for us, as we also bear witness to the only kingdom that will endure forever and that can encompass all humankind.