Unless you live under a rock, you have read about the horrible attacks in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris at the end of last week. They are horrific and inexcusable and the result of hate. They are also directly tied to the refugee crisis. These are the very things, the very people that so many of these refugees are running from.
I have been fervently praying over the issue, fervently pouring over my Bible about the issue. God keeps leading me to one answer – the fear and self-protective based decision to not help these refugees is simply the wrong one.
Sure, statistically there might be a few terrorists using the crisis they created to hide among refugees. It’s possible. However, statistically (and historically), so is the next Albert Einstein – or the prominent author Chinua Achebe – or brilliant stateswoman Madeleine Albright. How about Bartok and Chopin, Freud, Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger… shall I continue because the list is a long one? Some of our greatest contributions have come from refugees.
There are many arguments about why shutting our borders and doors to refugees is the wrong one. However, today I am just focusing on one specific argument. Because, frankly, for me it comes down to one thing. What is right? What is ethical? What is Biblical? All of those point to one thing. Helping refugees, not closing our doors.
This is my plea to help the refugees based on a Biblical argument. I firmly believe it is what God has called us to do and that (to coin the too used phrase) it is what Jesus would do.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. – Psalm 146:9
Shouldn’t we also work to watch over and sustain those whom the Lord does? Or are our interests different than his?
Do not do wrong to a stranger or make it hard for him. For you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 22:2 (and again in Exodus 23:9)
Take out Egypt and place the U.S. Frankly, we all came here as strangers.
Jeremiah 22:3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Jeremiah 7:5-8
Whose words are you listening to? Ones rooted in earthly concerns or heavenly?
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
Check out verses 11 and 12 to see God’s response to “their hearts as hard as flint.”
For me, the two verses that really compel me on this issue are below.
Malachi 3:55 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
‘“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’ – Matthew 25:40
If you aren’t convinced, Check out 1 King 8:41-43, 2 Corinthians 8:7, Leviticus 19:10, or the whole book of Ruth (the entire book of Ruth is based on the experience and suffering of migrant people. Ruth and her mother-in-law got up and left. It doesn’t talk about security clearance or paper work. They went somewhere else where they could make a better life.). Look at Matthew 5:43-48. Truth be told, the Bible has God commanding us to show love, compassion, mercy to foreigners. To not just do them no harm, but help them find justice.
I could go into the details of why I believe that shutting out refugees figuratively and/or literally is the wrong call based on elements of national security, economics, and simply American well-being (and maybe I will on a different day). However, for me, it is much more simple and much more important than those items. It is a question of what I believe God has called us to do and I can’t find a Biblical argument for anything other than helping them.