Strangers Among Us

How should we treat immigrants? The Bible has a little to say:

Exodus 22:21 “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:33-34 – “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

How’s that for some Old Testament righteous anger grace? According to Strong’s that word stranger can also be translated alien, sojourner, or stranger. Now of course it might be making a mistake to apply this to the current problems we’re having with immigration (illegal or otherwise). It might be falling into the same trap that I often accuse my brethren on the right of, when it comes to cherry picking verses and applying them to pet beliefs. But in this case I’m willing to take that risk. If cherry picking leads us to be better human beings and to loving those around us, it’s a good risk.

Christians living out the Gospel are strangers in a strange land. We are oppressed (to varying degrees) and should be more understanding of those who live in a more real sort of physical oppression. Yes, some of them are breaking the law, but even legal immigrants are oppressed by those of us who see only their skin color and hear only their accents.

Children that are born here are legal citizens and I think that’s the way it should be. If that means it brings people here to have their babies that should be a source of pride for us. Yes, it means we need to decide what to do with their parents. I’m not sure that chucking them back to their countries of origin is the answer. But this is really less about what the government should do and more about what we should be doing.

If we know of a stranger among us, how should we love them? What steps do we take? Take the legality of their presence off of the table for the moment. Remove even the question of immigrants and just think about the last person you looked at with an eyebrow lifted in judgment. Someone who didn’t dress like you or talk like you, what did you do to love them?

3 Comments »

  • salguod says:

    When you re-started blogging, I was hoping you’d post stuff like this.  I liked your blog because you tackled tough issues with a strong opinion and it sparked good debate.

    I thought maybe you were going to take on Israel and Palestine here with this one.  There’s a direct application there.  Christians don’t go there because it takes teh wind out of the support Israel at all costs arguments.

    I’d say that it has indirect application for us in regards to immigration as well.  If nothing else, it, along with Jesus’ stance on loving our enemies, shows us God’s heart on how we treat those outside our ‘tribe’.  Personally, I have no issue with clear and simple immigration laws and enforcing them unwaveringly.  However, the laws we have are far from clear and far from simple.  Lots of folks want to come here, and, frankly, we want them to come and do the low end jobs that Americans don’t want to do (to support low prices, particularly on food).  Make the means to those ends clear and simple and few will try to get around it.

    But this post isn’t about policy,it’s about individual Christians’ response to the alien among us.  Love, especially Christian love, should know no borders or nationalities.  Most of us Christians are adopted into the family of Israel anyway, so how should we act to those on the outside?

    It’s pretty simple, actually, but far more difficult to actually practice.

    • spiritualtramp says:

      Thanks Doug! Yeah I can see the tie to Israel/Palestine, but I picked on them enough last week.

      I agree with you totally on simple vs. hard. This whole issue is thorny. I hope I was clear on the fact that I’m not so much talking about what we as a country should do vs. what we as Christians should do. Though my bias on the former is clear. ;-)

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