Well. Here we go. I’m going to write about a topic that is often politicized, heated, and divisive. What is this topic, you ask? You guessed it, it’s immigration. The immigration system is a favorite topic for every political candidate. They all come with different ideas of how to fix it, but interestingly no one ever really does. Candidates know that this topic gets people’s attention. The idea of foreigners entering our country stirs people’s hearts and their fears. No doubt you and everyone you know has an opinion on immigrants. But what does God have to say? Let’s dig in.
The Bible says A LOT about immigrants. There are countless commands given by God regarding how Jews/Christians are to treat immigrants in their land. The Bible never actually refers to them as immigrants, but instead calls them foreigners, strangers, sojourners, and even aliens. God often groups the foreigner with the orphan and the widow. And his command is unequivocally for his people to take care of these vulnerable members of society (Exodus 22:21, Deuteronomy 27:19, Hebrews 13:12, Psalm 146:9, Zechariah 7:9-10, Leviticus 23:22, Malachi 3:5, Matthew 25:35). I could go on and on. But I believe the passage in Deuteronomy 10:17-19 sums it up the best, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and accepting no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and He loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. So, you also must love the foreigner, since you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
Not only is the Bible full of examples of how God loves immigrants and how he commands his people are to treat them, but the bible is full of stories of immigrants. Some of our most beloved Bible characters are immigrants! The book of Genesis is full of immigrant stories. Take for example Abram/Abraham. The father of Israel is told by God to leave his country and go to a new land that God would show him. God literally commands him to become an immigrant. Jacob, for fear of his brother’s wrath flees his homeland and journeys to other lands before he meets Rachel and Leah. Joseph is human trafficked and sold into slavery by his brothers where he is taken to the foreign land of Egypt. The entire Israelite people become slaves in Egypt until God rescues them. Then they wander around a desert (giant migrant caravan) and cross paths with other nations/people groups while on the way to the Promised Land. The book of Ruth is a beautiful immigrant story. Ruth becomes an immigrant out love for her mother-in-law, Naomi, and the need for food. She becomes the great grandmother of king David. Hmm.. sounds familiar to what we see on our own borders. People showing up to find work, food, fleeing poverty, persecution, and violence.
But the most famous and beloved immigrant story is that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His is a two-part immigrant story. The first being that God loved his people so much that he sent his son, Jesus from his heavenly home. He crossed from Heaven into the foreign land of earth to live among people. And unlike most immigrant stories, Jesus left the perfect place to come to the hard, sinful, broken land of earth where he became like us, so he could save us. The second part of Jesus’ immigrant story is that he became a refugee along with Mary and Joseph. They fled their homeland due to the persecution of King Herod. Our Christmas story is so sanitized. But the real story is that of a young family with a newborn baby forced to flee undercover of night to escape persecution from the King of their homeland who is killing all baby boys to blot out the newborn King of the World (Jesus). So, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus flee to Egypt due to a well-founded fear of persecution and death. Just like the 89.3 million worldwide who were forced to flee their homes due to conflicts, violence, fear of persecution, and human rights violations (UNHCR - Global Trends).
Jesus was an earthly immigrant. Our God understands the plight of the foreigners in our land on an intimate level. And he loves them deeply. He also commands us to care for them. Next week we will dig into how we can best love, witness to, and care for the foreigners among us!
- Written by Jessica Delp