Occasionally I’ll write on the Christian’s responsibility in the political process. Today, my interest was piqued by a friend who brought up the topic of illegal immigration. How should a Christian respond to this issue?
It’s certainly more complicated than giving them all amnesty or shipping them all back. We like to make the world black and white, but life is rarely so easily juxtaposed. As Christ-followers, it’s a good idea to look to Christ for our example.
If we’re all made in God’s image (Gen. 1), it would seem logical for us to have compassion regardless of whether people look, dress, or speak the same way we do. Looking in the Gospels, Christ was consistently found with the “least of these.” The hurting, the oppressed, the sick, the lost – they were all genuinely loved by Christ.
Those are just two examples of a rich collection (love your neighbor, mercy, grace, etc…) of Scripture that could speak to this issue. Clearly, as a Christian, there is a calling to love the immigrant as we would love anyone else. But, here is where things get tricky.
A Christian’s responsibility does not necessarily directly correlate with national policy. America is not a theocracy. We are called to love every single immigrant. We should give them the shirt off our backs. But, that is as individuals and as churches. If we were to adopt that policy nationally (any poor person just come here, we’ll support you), we would bankrupt and put everyone in that situation. This does not mean we have no part in the political process, but it does mean that our primary expression of faith is not fighting for specific legislation.
My point is not that there should be no reform. I’ll be honest. I don’t even pretend to begin to know the outcomes of all the possible policy angles. We should certainly stay informed and vote our conscience, but I think the church misses out when we completely rely on politics.
If we feel illegal immigrants should be loved unconditionally, love them, provide for them, and help them become legal. If you think abortion is murder, begin loving some teenagers in your community, get involved in their lives, and help them make better decisions. If you believe we need to send aid to a certain country, have your church start a ministry there.
Certainly, we need legislation, but that is not our sole or even primary responsibility. Think of the goldmine of resources, talent, time, imagination, wealth, and creativity that resides in our churches nationwide. Imagine the beautiful stories we could hear if we took our convictions of faith and began living them out. We don’t have to beg and plead for people or politicians to do something. If we are the hands and feet of Christ, what does that look like in our communities? Christ didn’t come as an earthly king. He came to seek and to save what was lost. Stay engaged in politics, but ask God how He could use you and your church to love the immigrants, the hurting, the broken, the struggling, the lost, and the unloved.