I don’t normally emphasise my religious viewpoints through this blog but in the interest of “rallying more troops to the cause” during this current political crisis, I felt the following was called for.
Many Christians fail to recognise the strong biblical mandate to love, welcome and advocate on behalf of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.
At this point in the public debate on migration in Australia, Christians (as well as all other Australians) must take a stand. And so here is a biblical perspective on how we are to approach the issue of migration;
NOTE: The following 5 points come from the article, “Seeing Immigration Through Biblical Spectacles” by Rich Nathan. In Rich’s article he refers to “illegal immigrants” in the US context. To fit this to the Australian context, I have changed this to “asylum seekers”, and it IS NOT “illegal” to seek asylum in Australia.
According to the bible, Christians must;
1. Begin with the conviction that asylum seekers are persons made in God’s image and are, therefore, worthy of respect and dignity (Genesis 1:26,28).
2. Appreciate the fact that many of our spiritual ancestors were themselves economic refugees. Thus Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob moved from the Promised Land on several occasions in search of food (Genesis 12:10; 26:1; 41:57; 42:6; 43:1-7). The story of Ruth is the story of an immigrant who continually crossed national borders in search of food. Other spiritual ancestors of ours were pushed out of their homeland because of war or persecution (Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David, and the baby Jesus). So immigration because of economics, war, and asylum-seeking is not far from every Christian’s own heritage.
3. Specifically apply the Second Commandment to asylum seekers: “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
4. Care for immigrants since they had a central place in the laws and practices of ancient Israel. Israel was commanded to love immigrants because God loves immigrants. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
5. Be hospitable according to New Testament teaching which literally means to “love the stranger” or the alien (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Jesus commanded his followers to welcome people who had no social standing, such as the poor, the sick, and the outsider (Luke 14:12-14).
Now none of these Bible passages answer the question as to exactly how Australia is to shape its official immigration policy. However, they do call on all Christians to adopt the attitude of Christ, which was one of radical sacrifice, love and inclusion.
Regardless of what political party you find yourself supporting, this is a question of faith.
Do you, or do you not believe that in this world God created, that He would have made such commands if it was not possible for us to live together with migrants in such a way?
It’s time for the Church to throw its weight into this issue and what’s more, based on such a reading of the scriptures, this is surely something we can all agree on regardless of denomination or creed.
Check out the ideas and resources on Welcome to Australia’s website. A campaign, “engaging everyday Australians in the task of cultivating a culture of welcome in our nation“, lead by Pastor Brad Chilcott of Activate Church S.A.