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Immigrants & Refugees

by Tim Isbell, November 2015

In the ramp-up to the 2016 presidential election, immigration policy enlivens candidate debates, threads through political news stories, and even animates some of our interpersonal discussions. Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks in Paris elevate the rhetoric several notches. Western governments understandably scramble to protect their people. Politicians move aggressively to block the path of refugees and other immigrants. It's natural and expected.

How the world processes immigrants and refugees is an old, old story. So old that the Christian scriptures speak about it a lot. I'm a Nazarene pastor, so in times like these I look for relevant biblical teaching on the topic. 

About a week before the Paris attack, all of us Nazarene pastors (in North America, at least) received an email from Dr. Jerry Porter. He's one of six General Superintendents, who lead our religious tradition. The content of his email comes from a 2012 publication. So I presume Dr. Porter and the Generals felt the need to refresh our biblical understanding of immigration in light of the anti-immigrant political debate. Then came Paris. With Dr. Porter's permission, I'm posting his article because it so accurately captures Christian thinking on this topic. To view Dr. Porter's article, click on The Immigrant Among Us.

Here's my perspective: While I don't expect secular governments to operate by Christian or religious principles, we Christians are pledged to a higher politic: God's alternate Kingdom. There is wiggle room in Christian faith on many social issues, but God is crystal clear on how he wants his followers to deal with refugees and immigrants. So, while I'm slow to criticize governments that resist the flow of displaced persons, I'm quick to remind authentic Christians that we are to embrace them. Regardless of what our secular government decides, we Christians are called to extend compassion and mercy. Is this risky? Of course. But mature Christians know that God doesn't promise his path is safe - he promises that it is good.

From C.S. Lewis' story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”



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