The Foreigner Residing among You

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. – Leviticus 19:34

My grandparents came from Romania, Cuba and Scotland. While they all have different stories, each of their stories shares a common theme – they came to this country seeking a better life. And they found it. I am a product of the welcoming vision of this nation, a vision that believed that diversity is a strength.

Immigration policy is one of the latest polarizing issues in our political conversation. I’ve met very few people who advocate for either of the two extreme views of “let everyone in” and “keep everyone out”. And at the same time, I’ve met too few Christ-followers who are asking how Scripture and faith should shape our thinking and our advocacy regarding immigration policy.

At the very least, the Judeo-Christian tradition mandates that we care for the foreigner in our midst. This is a repeating theme in the Old Testament Law (eg. Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:19), the prophets (eg. Jeremiah 7:1-7; Ezekiel 47:21-23) and Jesus’s teaching (eg. Matt. 25:31-48). Please note: these passages don’t say, “Open your borders and let everyone in”. They do imply that Christ-followers advocate for policies that express deep compassion for the foreigners among us.

The Evangelical Immigration Table  is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values. I deeply appreciate their principles for immigration reform and commend them to you for prayerful consideration:

Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost. We urge our nation’s leaders to work together with the American people to pass immigration reform that embodies these key principles and that will make our nation proud. As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:

  • Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  • Protects the unity of the immediate family
  • Respects the rule of law
  • Guarantees secure national borders
  • Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents

I value the words of Pope Francis, “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

No matter what your political leanings, if you’re a Christ-follower I challenge you to allow scripture and faith to inform your perspective, and then to advocate for the kind of policies that truly reflect the Kingdom of God. If you live in Minnesota you can find contact information for your legislators here. Let your faithful voice be heard!

Want to learn more? Take the time to watch this video produced by the Evangelical Immigration Table. You’ll find it here.

 Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Curt Carlson

    Thank you for this Pastor Jeff. It was much needed.

  • Chris Erickson

    Thank you, Pastor Jeff

  • Nancy Carlson

    Pastor Jeff, thank you for your kind and meaningful words. I believe that we are all children of God, whether as immigrants coming into the country today, or have ancestors who came many years ago and that this bond that unites us is strong and can withstand anything, with God’s help.