"Bible Believing" Christians Ignoring Scripture: The Immigrant
Preparing for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: Two Days before Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 15
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 24:17—25:4
Epistle: 1 Timothy 5:17-24
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this Deuteronomy 24:17-18).
It has become increasingly obvious to me over the years that the Christians in America who insist most persistently that the Bible is central for faith and life and how important it is to have a “biblical worldview” (however defined) are alarmingly the ones most untethered from the biblical text. In other words, many of these Christians theoretically embrace the the importance of Scripture, but it does not figure seriously in shaping their views on moral issues. Several studies done by Barna and Pew Forum over the years confirm this. I am in agreement with Stanley Hauerwas that a high percentage of Christians in America are more American than Christian. The former is more influential on their values than the latter.
Let’s take the one example of the immigrant, the asylum seeker. The Bible has much to say about how God’s people are to treat the immigrant, but talking to many “Bible believing” Christians you wouldn’t know it. Overall, the Old Testament generally emphasizes the importance of treating immigrants and foreigners with compassion and kindness, and prohibits oppressing or mistreating them. Today’s reading from Deuteronomy makes it clear that God’s people are not to deprive the foreigner of justice. In the book of Leviticus, it states that “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34).
Even more so, when American Christians complain that the non-citizens in our midst do not deserve Constitutional rights, the Bible says, “You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 24:22). While this does not refer to the Constitution of the United States, but the Torah, it does raise the question as to what biblical grounds American Christians claim the rightness of such discrimination? And while it is true that there are some passages of Scripture that seem to be discriminatory of the foreigners in Israel’s midst, the general tenor of the Old Testament is clear that the stranger is to be welcomed, cared for, and given justice. Every serious study of the Hebrew Scriptures bear witness to this truth.
It is true that immigration is a complex issue. Christians need to be informed about the matter as it really is and stop imbibing their information from political pundits and cable news talking heads whose first concern is not the truth, but increased ratings. The Evangelical Immigration Table rightly states the following:
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 a signatory to the EIT principles, I affirm the following:
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
It is time for Christians who proudly wear the moniker of “Bible believing” spend less time touting what they say they believe and actually delve into the Scripture in order to shape their faith after the example of Jesus Christ who welcomed all including the outsiders.
PRAYER: Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Check out more from the Evangelical Immigration Table here.