We love to claim God’s promises in scripture — at least some of them. Some we prefer not to think about.
Some promises — we might call them “consequences” — are promises that come as the result of our bad choices.
This topic comes to mind because of Friday’s Executive Order by the President stopping the refugee program for 120 days and severely crippling it thereafter.
Never mind that America is built on immigration; or that most economists say immigration is good for our economy; or that refugees have had little to do with domestic terrorism. It’s true that three Americans have been killed by refugee terrorists — they were from Cuba back in the 1970s, before the Refugee Act of 1980 created systematic entry procedures. Targeting refugees, which the State Department already describes as the “most highly scrutinized” and “most vigorously vetted” path to entering the US, is like fixing a dripping faucet while a broken pipe pours gallons of water into your kitchen.
But let’s assume everything in that last paragraph is wrong. If Christians are going to claim the Bible as the ultimate authority on how we are to live our lives, none of that is as important as the teachings of scripture.
What does the Bible teach about immigration and refugees in particular? A 2015 Lifeway Research survey determined that only 12% of Evangelical Christians consider scripture to be the primary influence on their view of immigration.
I can make a Biblical case for protecting our country and our families. But that isn’t a strong theme in scripture. It’s a stronger theme that God will defend those who are committed to His purposes. One of the strongest of those purposes is care for the most vulnerable (widows, orphans, homeless, and foreigners) and especially those who are victims of injustice — e.g. refugees.
In case this isn’t clear, refugees are those who have left their home country because of “a credible fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group.” You’re not a refugee because you want to find a better place to make a living, or because there was an earthquake in your home country. You are a refugee because of a credible fear of injustice.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of verses that apply to refugees:
Deut 10:19 Love them
Deut 14:28-29 Use tithes to bless them
Deut 31:11-12 Assemble with them to listen to God’s Word
Deut 16:11 Celebrate God’s blessings with them
Deut 24:19-20 Take care of their physical needs
Deut 27:19 Cursed is he who distorts the justice due them
Eze 22:29-31 God’s wrath on those who wrong them
Zech 7:10-13 God won’t listen to those who oppress them
Mal 3:5 God’s swift judgment against those who turn them aside
Isa 58 promises God’s blessing when we stop seeking our own pleasure to bring them into our own homes and care for them.
So we get to choose — individually and as a nation — which promises of God we want to experience.
God is faithful to deliver on His promises. Like it or not.