Immigration is big right now. And I don’t mean that a lot of people are moving to different countries. No, I’m talking about the political issue of how to deal with immigrants trying to enter our country illegally. It’s been a hot topic for a while, and even though it’s cooled off a bit ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit, it’s still an important issue that we need to address.
Now, I’m not here to give you the solution to the immigration problem. I’m not going to tell you where you should stand in the current political debates over this issue. Rather, I want to make a much more general point, one that has to do with our overall attitude as Christians towards people who try to come here looking for a better life, both those who do so “by the book” and those who don’t.
Speaking VS Doing
Let’s start by looking at a passage from Scripture:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
At first, this text may not seem all that relevant to the immigration issue, but let’s think about the principle James is teaching here. He’s telling us that when we encounter people in need, we have to help them. He’s saying that we can’t simply pass them by and ignore their suffering. If we do that, our faith is dead.
Granted, he’s talking about our responsibility as individuals, but the principle applies on a larger scale as well. When we as a nation encounter people in need, we can’t just ignore their plight.
What We Can’t Do
So what does this have to do with illegal immigration? In a nutshell, whatever we think we should do about people trying to enter our country illegally, we can’t simply ignore their plight. Even if we keep people out, we can’t just ignore them because they’re in a different country. No, if we claim to be Christians, we have to do something to alleviate their suffering and make their lives better.
At the end of the day, the question of who we should let into our country is secondary. First and foremost, we should focus on how we can help the people who come to us looking for a better life. Maybe that means we should let them come here, and maybe it means we should help them improve their lives in their own countries. But one thing our faith definitely doesn’t allow us to do is just ignore them and focus solely on our own citizens with no concern for our suffering neighbors.