The Bible, Christians in America, and Immigration
A few years ago, Russell Moore took a lot of heat for pointing out that Jesus was once an illegal immigrant. Dr. Moore took even more heat for imploring Christians in America to allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to shape their rhetoric in reference to immigration. I can only imagine the kind of vitriol Dr. Moore's article would've have earned him had it been published in 2016. That being said, I don't understand the high level of consternation that the brief article provoked among professing Christians. It wasn't overly political and, more importantly, it was and remains a true and good reminder to keep our focus on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of course, a country must secure its borders. I've never claimed otherwise, and neither did Dr. Moore. In fact, he very plainly wrote,
I agree that the border should be secured. I support holding businesses accountable for hiring, especially since some of them use the threat of deportation as a way of exploiting these vulnerable workers. I support a realistic means of providing a way to legal status for the millions of immigrants already here.
For the record, I wholeheartedly concur with that paragraph lifted from Dr. Moore's article. However, like Dr. Moore, I'm troubled by the ways in which many professing Christians interact with the issue of immigration, both in word and deed.
For starters, our most important priority as Christians should be—overwhelmingly—to obey our King's final earthly command to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Are my first thoughts when confronted by immigrants—or even discussions about immigrants—about my safety or my wallet or a political agenda? Or am I thinking that the immigrants, undocumented or not, are humans made in the Image of God who are in need of Jesus? If it's the former, then my priorities are out of whack—sinfully so.
Dovetailing with the fact that sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be priority number one for Christians in reference to immigrants, we should also strive to speak about immigrants with words and a tone that reflects God's words and tone in the Bible. Sadly, much of the rhetoric from professing Christians in America concerning immigration is filled with resentment, anger, and even hatred at times, and is used to promote strife and sow discord.
If an undocumented immigrant hears me spew vitriol in reference to him and his fellow immigrants, why should he listen to me when I share the good news about Jesus Christ with him? Well, the answer is that he shouldn't and probably won't. Further, and sadly, I highly doubt that those whose speech is dominated by vitriol and strife are concerned about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with immigrants to begin with. Disobeying King Jesus should not be taken lightly, and any political ideology that places stumbling blocks in front of the Great Commission is a political ideology that should be discarded by Christians.