Love the foreigner as yourself

Artwork by David Hayward “The naked pastor”

As a Christian when we are discussing politics and side with the “law of the land” over having compassion and mercy for foreigners (illegal or not) we essentially deny the humanity of someone. We cease to follow Jesus therfore and instead have made Caesar (empire, vis-a-vis nationalism) Lord.

One common argument is that we have to worry about “our own” first. This might be a shocker but it is fully possible to have compassion for veterans, homeless, prisoners and their families in your country AND for those abroad, seeking asylum from evil and a better life regardless of how they try to achieve this.

Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself”. So the question becomes “Who is your neighbor?”

Love of neighbor shouldn’t stop at the border or to those who crossed it “the wrong way”. To a Christian, America doesn’t come first, all people of earth do. There is no Greek, or gentile or jew or American or Mexican or citizen or refugee. There is only Christ.

In scripture Jesus seemed to identify himself with the foreigner and those that cared for them were in fact carrying for him. I’m sure it had to do with having been one himself when his family hid in Egypt illegally while escaping the rule of Herod (Matthew 2:13):

I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a FOREIGNER and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
Matthew 25:35‭-‬36

Also don’t forget the Apostle Paul refers to non Jews as once foreigners but all were shown mercy and compassion as best seen in Christ on the cross :

Therefore remember you Gentiles were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and FOREIGNERS to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 2:11‭-‬13

The Hebrew Bible has many references of how to treat the foreigners and sojourners in their land:

Leviticus 19:34
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.

Exodus 22:21
You must not exploit or oppress a foreign resident, for you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9
Do not oppress a foreign resident, since you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24:17
Do not deny justice to the foreigner or the fatherless, and do not take a widow’s cloak as security.

Deuteronomy 24:18
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from that place. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.

Deuteronomy 27:19
Cursed is he who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow.’ And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’

Isaiah 14:1
For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and choose Israel once again. He will settle them on their own land. The foreigner will join them and be united with the house of Jacob.

Ezekiel 14:22
You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners who dwell among you and who have children. You are to treat them as native-born Israelites; along with you, they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.

So, how big or small are your borders? Where do they start and stop with love? The street over? The county over? The state? The country? Where do we draw the line of inclusion? When does someone cease being human and become a political problem? Where is the line?

Who is your neighbor?

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