Last week’s executive order signed by President Trump was nothing short of controversial for both Christian and non-Christian. The executive order was titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” and if you want to read a summary of all the policy changes, I recommend you read Joe Carter’s summary called “The FAQS: President Trumps’ Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees” on The Gospel Coalition website.
What is controversial is not that Pres. Trump did this, because he said he would during the campaign. What is controversial is the questions the order has raised with the church and how Christians should respond to it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before I mention what the Bible says to us as Christians regarding the refugee and immigrant.
KEEP IN MIND
- Pres. Trump is not banning ALL refugees. 50,000 immigrants are being allow per year, which is the same as both Pres. Bush and most of Pres. Obama’s eight years.
- Muslims are not the only target. They may be in the majority of those impacted, but they are not the only religious people. Even Christians from other nations are being forbidden from entering.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
First, God is sovereign (Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Job 42:2). This means that nothing is outside of God’s reign and direction. Nothing surprises God or is not being ordained of God for His glory in some way. Everything and everyone is under His kingdom of sovereignty. God is sovereign over ISIS; God is sovereign over Pres. Trump and Pres. Obama; God is sovereign over Planned Parenthood; God is even sovereign over Satan (Job 1). Thus, the displaced refugee or the immigrant is also part of God’s sovereign plan.
Second, our government’s core purpose is to protect its citizens (Romans 13:1-5). So, the government of the U.S.A. must weigh what is and isn’t safe for its citizens. It is prudent and praise-worthy of our government to act cautiously with immigration and refugees, because we know there will be some who come here to bring harm to our citizens. Our governing authorities must protect us “from all enemies foreign and domestic.” The government does not have the same purpose as the church; it’s focus is not on taking the Gospel of Jesus to people (Matthew 28:16-20). Nor is the church’s purpose like the government. The church is not called to form militias to fight terrorist cells.
Third, God loves refugees and immigrants. He does because they are made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). And He loves them, because, like the orphan or widow, immigrants and refugees are likely to be abused, taken advantage of, not cared for, and mistreated in a myriad of ways. There are a plethora of Scripture that demonstrate to us the hospitality we are to show the immigrant or refugee (Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33; 23:22; Deuteronomy 10:19; Luke 10:25-37). In short, because God loves the immigrant and refugee, we too are to show love by showing mercy.
First, if you know someone who is here illegally, I would encourage you to encourage them to go through the legal process of immigration, because we are commanded to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1; I Peter 2:13-17), unless the government seeks to mandate us to disobey God (Acts 5:29). Especially the professing believer who is here illegally needs to be above reproach in their character and reputation (Proverbs 28:6; Daniel 1:8; II Corinthians 8:21; I Peter 3:16). Encourage the illegal to trust God to provide for them as they seek to keep a clear conscience.
Second, the government is not forbidding the church from showing mercy to the immigrant and refugee. Our mission of mercy is unchanged. In fact, Jesus even characterizes the genuine believer as one who would even visit the inmate in prison as a sign of Christlike mercy (Matthew 25:31-45). Thus, I would encourage every Christian to always show mercy to the refugee and immigrant – no matter if they are here illegally, standing in line to become citizens of our country or in prison for trying to cross the border without documentation. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
Third, remember our mission of spreading the Gospel is still critical and maybe more urgent than ever. With the millions around our world disillusioned from their country and their country’s major religions, there is more need to give a reason for the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15). David Platt remind us in a talk he gave last July that the refugee’s greats need is not water, food, clothing, medicine or shelter; it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Fourth, when you are given the opportunity, be a good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Don’t walk by the refugee or immigrant in need and think, “I know someone will show this person goodwill.” Be the agent of goodwill for that person is need. That is mercy. That is what God did for us in our greatest need. He stopped, gave us the redemption we needed, delivered us from the bondage of sin and guaranteed an eternal inheritance. Be just. Be fair. Be merciful.
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