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Immigration is not a new topic. In the bible it was discussed all the time.  It starts with Abraham, who left his homeland,.  The story continues with Ruth, who was a foreigner who followed her mother-in-law to glean the fields, to Joseph, a victim of human trafficking, to Paul, who fled persecution and spread the Gospel in the Middle East.  You see many Biblical characters who were immigrants whose migration experience deepened their understanding of God.

There is also a theme in Scripture that immigrants are of special concern to God. God repeatedly references “ger” or “stranger” in the Old Testament along with widows and orphans who were particularly vulnerable (Deuteronomy 10, Psalm 146, Zechariah 7) and commanded the Israelites to remember that they themselves were aliens too (Exodus 23, Leviticus 19).

Here are a few of the most powerful references to the strangers in a foreign land and what God expects of us.

Hebrews 13:1-2

 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

 

Matthew 25:35 

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me

 

Leviticus 19:33-34 

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Proverbs 31:8-9 

 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Deuteronomy 23:15-16 

“You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.

Luke 10:34-37

He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

 

2 Timothy 3:1-4 

 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

Right now our government is struggling with the threats of terrorism and illegal immigration. Fear cannot color their decision. Lately, the two houses of Congress have not been able to agree on immigration reform legislation. The Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013. However, the House of Representatives refused to do so in 2013 and again in 2014.

With the actions from radicals last week we all may have the temptation to color all immigrants the same. Let’s not live in fear, but in God.

 

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