I often hear a lot of anti-immigration rhetoric coming from what appears to be the religious right. I thought that meant that those ideas represented God and most Christian denominations attitude towards immigrants but that just isn’t the case. I encourage everyone to contemplate our stance on immigration in a country made of immigrants, and let us reflect on what the Bible says:
Exodus 22:21 NLT “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 19:34 NIV “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
Deuteronomy 10:19 ESV “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
3 John 1:5 NIV “Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you.”
Additionally, the United Methodist Church released a call for comprehensive immigration reform from their 2008 General Conference. It asserted that “immigrants are children of God made in God’s image…that immigrant children deserve to be educated and provided with basic social services… the General Conference urge all the local congregations to oppose unjust local and state ordinances that seek to deprive undocumented persons of basic social services including the access to adequate housing and protection under the law… join with M.A.R.C.H.A. (Methodists Associated to Represent the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans) and urge the United States Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that makes family unity… and a reasonable path towards citizenship a priority.”
To add one more Christian group, I’ll mention the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who bulletized what’s needed in “Elements Necessary for a Just Immigration Reform Proposal.” The six elements include: Future Flow Worker Program, Family-based Immigration Reform, Restoration of Due Process Protections, Addressing Root Causes of Migration and Inclusion of the DREAM Act and AgJOBS.
Archbishop Oscar Romero preached non-violence and love against atrocities but that didn’t mean he was passive; he stood loudly against them. He said, “I am not sowing discord; I am calling on the God that weeps… a God that feels the pain of His peasants… This is not what God was expecting from this Salvadoran land we live in which should be a land of humanity and Christianity.” The catalyst to his action, the murder of Father Rutlio and two others, led to his refusal to participate in government functions until his death was investigated, the short term closing of Catholic schools and Misa Unica, when 100,000 people heard his message. Eventually assassinated, his decision to stand with the poor changed the nation and all the people in it. He inspires me.
Lord, Father, I praise your name because it is good. I lift your name up with my voice and in my heart. You strengthen me and give me courage in my weakness. As completely lost as I was without You, I find myself within You. I know even as I struggle You have blessed me beyond measure and it is an honor to be called to serve You. I am not worthy, but then, nobody is worthy, for who is all good but You? And yet through Your Son You make me an heir of Your kingdom. Therefore in gratitude I will strive to love and obey, knowing all things are possible through Your power. Amen.
I used to think all this evil was evidence of God either being non-existent or not all good. It took a long time but I don’t feel that way anymore. In order for us to have the freedom to choose to love God, and to show our love through our love of our neighbors (and we are all neighbors), I suppose we must conversely have the option to not love God, to not love our neighbor. The end result is the darkness that we are seeing in the world: human trafficking, genocide, working poor, etc. It is all tragically heartbreaking, an end result of choices we are making and actions we are perpetuating against another.
This does comfort me more than the old belief of an absent or uncaring God. Despite all of the ways we fail I know that I have a good God that loves all of us and that through Him we can restore these things. But we have to choose hard things sometimes. In the US, the land that tells people think “me me me,” and, “consume,” we’ll have to be counterculture. Just like Jesus was.