Archive for July, 2021

Look After the Foreigners

God spoke through Zechariah regarding justice, mercy, and compassion when he said, “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” (Zechariah 7:9-10).

If we accept that the Bible (aptly called the Basic Instruction Book for Living on Earth) as the word of God and as a true guidebook describing how Christians are to act, then how does our treatment of foreigners line up?  Are we taking care of immigrants?  Are we recognizing and remembering that we built our nation on immigrants fleeing persecution and danger in other countries – or even just taking up America’s sincere invitation for a better life – so they could live in peace and strive for the American dream?  Do we remember our own ancestry?  And what about foreigners still living in foreign lands? Do we honestly want these folks to have a better life, or do we ignore them, degrade them, and wish them ill?

When I hear people talk about foreigners, I hear a lot of “absolute” statements. You know what they are, and they’re funny things. Absolutes are statements that assume certain facts, use words like “always” and “never,” and, psychologically speaking, provide comfortable shortcuts to help us make sense of a complex world. Most writing sources warn against using them, and, in fact, when used in a purely world setting, absolute statements are almost always wrong.

Take immigration for example. That’s pretty complex, and so we hear a lot of absolutes floating around, like, “They’re all criminals,” and “they’re taking our jobs.” The truth, of course, is far messier. There may be a few so-called “criminals” coming over the border, and still some more who try to evade authorities (making them criminal, perhaps, in the sense that they are in the U.S. unlawfully, though this still must be proved in America through a trial process). Mostly, though, people come over knowing that they’ll be immediately arrested and subjected to the legal processes of the immigration laws, which allow for folks to do exactly what they’re doing – crossing the border and turning themselves in. According to David Bier of the Cato Institute, “It does seem like the majority of people who are crossing the border now are doing it to turn themselves in (seeking asylum).” For purposes of this post, though, I’m going to claim it doesn’t matter because for purposes of the Bible, it doesn’t matter.

Nevertheless, these absolutes persist, and so I see lots of Americans wanting to get armed, build walls, immediately lock everyone up (which, by the way, goes against American law in that we actually use bail – or some sort of pretrial release – even in immigration cases), or more heinously, separating parents from children or threatening to shoot them. Don’t look shocked – I’ve even seen this sort of rhetoric on my Facebook feed. All of these statements foment hatred against anyone even remotely looking like a foreigner, including folks with long American genealogies.

And that’s just the folks actually trying to become American. Lately, we’ve seen a similar trend of “nationalism,” which, by most definitions, causes people to back certain ideas that dismiss, disrespect, and might even harm people from other countries. Once again, for purposes of this post, a foreigner is someone here or there, and I’m going to claim it doesn’t matter because for purposes of the Bible, it doesn’t matter.

But here’s the funny thing about absolutes: God actually uses them all the time. God loves everyone. All persons sin. We are to love and treat all persons equally and as we would want others to treat us. Jesus takes away all our sin. He died for everyone. You get the gist.

So, to me, there appear to be two ways to use absolutes. The first way, apparently needed by us finite creatures of limited knowledge, is to make sense of a complicated topic, which is fraught with the danger of coming off as non-biblical, if not outright prejudicial or hateful. The second is a way for an infinite, all-knowing God to instruct us to act in ways that follow his will on topics that God doesn’t see as complex at all. Which way seems right to you?

For me, the only right way is God’s way. He, alone, can use absolutes without fear of being “wrong.” He, alone, can tell us not to oppress any and all foreigners, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, and we, his creation, have no good argument for why we should disobey.

And this, of course, points us to the Bible, because that’s where He’s written it all down. Like all things, even the most complex matters can be solved by simply looking to the Bible for God’s answer. And in this case, that answer is clear. God wants us to use mercy, compassion, and empathy for the foreigner, and so I believe that there must be a humane and reasonable solution to the southern border immigration issue. Just like there is a more compassionate and humane way to speak of foreigners living abroad. We simply have to resist the worldly urge to use our own mostly negative absolutes simply because they make us feel a bit more in control.

With prayer, and with our leaders working together as humans (versus crass politicians), a solution can be found that glorifies God and his creation at the same time. I believe that God created all of us in equality. In his masterful, all-knowing way, he created us to be different, to look different, and to have different cultures. Apparently, this is the best possible way to create his vision of the Kingdom, and so I’m not going to complain about it. Instead, I’m going to embrace it.

Would you want to live in a world where the only color was green?  I wouldn’t, and I relish the ability to learn from others with different cultures, life experiences, ideas, creativity, and God given gifts. I love the texture, color, and fabric of our differences that make up the masterpiece of God’s creation.  

So that’s it on foreigners. Don’t get me started on the widows, the fatherless, and the poor – that’s for another day.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: