What’s a Christian to Do?

Humans made up the rules about separating countries.

When God created the earth and all that was therein, he did not place any border lines separating countries. Borders and boundaries were established by kings and queens and governments of all types.

I believe that God created the earth with the idea that people could live wherever they wanted to live. Where you were born could be anywhere on earth, and where you wanted to live could be your privilege and freedom to choose! But then humans made up the rules about separating countries. I personally have a hard time with the word “illegal” when talking about a person seeking a country to live in.

Today, governments around the globe make their own rules concerning who may and may not enter their countries and who may become a citizen. The rules pertaining to immigration vary from country to country. The United States of America is now going through a period of debate over how to deal with immigration; Canada and Mexico are involved in discussion on the immigration issue also.

Demonstrations by people who are on one side of the immigration issue are met with protests by people who are on the opposing side of the issue.

Just what should a Christian do?

Scripture tells us that we should love the foreigners within our land (Deut. 10:19). Scripture also says that we should love our neighbor. And even if we consider those who are immigrants an enemy, Jesus had a back-up plan for that. He said, “Love your enemies.”

On the “citizen” side of the issue, we should participate by asking our elected officials to do everything they can to welcome immigrants to our land—and we can follow through by attending any meetings the elected officials call to have dialogue about immigration. Let them know how you feel!

On the “Christian” side of the issue, we should pray for immigrants in their quest to become citizens of our land.

Get to know some people who want to become citizens. It may be your server at a restaurant or the person busing your table or the person giving you some water to drink. You may even want to try speaking his or her language to become friendly. This friendliness can also be carried into the workplace. I have seen the joy on the faces of immigrants who have become citizens. It is as though they are born again!

Being kind should be a way of life for everyone.

About the Author

Dean Koldenhoven is a former mayor of Palos Heights, Ill. He attends Palos Heights Christian Reformed Church.

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Comments

"I believe that God created the earth with the idea that people could live wherever they wanted to live."

Pity the Canaanites get that word.  But if I hear of some family moving into your area, I'll suggest they check out your living room.  If they like it, move on in - God created the world so people could live where ever they want to.

Boundaries, private property, the differentiation of responsibility so that I am responsible for this land and you for that - these concepts are embedded in the command to not steal and throughout the Mosaic law.  That this concept should be extended to national cultures is not only not surprising, but inevitable.  And from what I read of Joshua and the Pentateuch, all sorts of boundaries were established between clans, tribes, between Israel and other nations, and so on - by God, no less.  Rather odd behavior if he really did intend for there to be no such thing as national boundaries or borders.

I'm fine with being hospitable to visitors and aliens.  I also think visitors and aliens ought respect their hosts - and one way to show respect for your hosts is to abide by your hosts' rules.  That includes rules about when you may stay in their house and when it is time to leave.

When God created the world, he also did not create counntries, or institute government, or the church; nor did he provide for any of the technology we use today (list continues forever).

So the argument of this article sounds good in a way, but its not.

In similar fashion, this article suggests any stated command by scripture is a command for persons, government, churches, businesses, etc., without any differentiating any societal "spheres."

So again, the argument sounds good in a way, but its not.

But maybe it is a good argument, so let's extend it to test it.  Government, assuming it should exist in the first place (not being create), should "love its enemies" and never engaging in war.  Which means Hitler should have been given his way.  Similarly, those who murder should be "loved" by government and not imprisoned (God didn't make prisons either).  And forget anyone sueing anyone for breach of contract, or anything else.  And why bother even creating those laws (contracts, torts, property, etc) in the first place, if love is the rule and all wrongs/offenses should be met with love.

Hmmm.  Reminds me of the 1960's actually.  That one didn't turn out so good.

A layman could be excused for the sloppy theology presented here, the editors of the Banner who are seminary-educated cannot be excused for running this article.

Likewise, I find it curious that a simple google search shows Mr. Koldenhoven is a Democratic Party activist and former Lt. Governor candidate in Illinois. Hardly a simple guy trying to understand the issue from an apolitical perspective.

Thank you for this reminder of what it means to love our neighbor, Dean. Our citizenship is in heaven. 

Our citizenship is also in our city, county, state and country (at least if we are in a western styled democracy, not so much if in, e.g., Saudi Arabia).  And that is where the problem is.  If we do government or promote government policies without realizing or acknowledging government's differentiated task as a social sphere, we may feel satisfied that we have acted inside our personal obligation to love when we convince government to so act, but we won't necessarily be doing good government.  As government, "loving" one person (instead of doing justice) almost always means "hating" another person.  As to the illegal immigration problem, the people "hated" when government doesn't do its differentiated job include many who have less chance to work and lesser wages when they do work, because of the competition from immigrants who shouldn't be here.

Having said the above, I should note -- having googled about Koldenhoven's mayorship at Palos Heights and found the deed he is "known for" (not opposing a Muslim mosque) --  that he was actually doing good government when he opposed city council by not opposing a Muslim mosque construction, but the logic used here could have as easily supported a conclusion contrary to how he acted.

 

I was privileged to watch the U.S. citizenship ceremony of my foster son, who had been a refugee from Sudan. It was an exciting and humbling moment as I realized how hard the 37 people participating in that ceremony had worked to become citizens, while I sometimes take for granted the gifts and privileges bestowed on me by the fact that I was born here. And I'm only here because my grandfather, as a teenager who wanted something different, was able to immigrate from the Netherlands!

Thanks for this encouraging piece, Dean! A reminder to all of us about the centrality of love and relationship. And thanks, Kristy, for the great reminder that we are all here because of immigration (unless you are American Indian). It's easy to forget that when our ancestors came over, the US couldn't let you in or give away land fast enough. I have certainly benefited as a result. I hope and pray that others who wish to immigrate now will be able to enjoy the same benefits.

No one is suggesting the US shouldn't allow immigration.  Regardless of any immigration reform or lack thereof, comprehensive or otherwise, there has always been and will be legal immigration to the US.  Thus, everyone in Christy's foster son position should be able to become US citizens.

The suggestion made by this article, on the other hand, is that the US (and perhaps all other countries???) totally eliminate border enforcement because the existence of national borders does not comport with God's will, and that all Christians who believe that Jesus tells us to love should politically advocate for the elimination of all national border enforcement.

Apparently, Kyle thinks the "centrality of love and relationship" requires the US government to declare its borders open to all as well.  I think doing that would be a decision by the US government to abdicate is God-given responsibility to act like government.

I've said for some years now that OSJ's inclination is that there be no US border restrictions at all, and its advocacy on immigration is in keeping with that premise, but that they hesitate to say so outright.  I'm reading Kyle's post (Kyle being OSJ's Creation Care Coordinator, formerly OSJ's Policy Analyst) as finally saying that.  Am I wrong Kyle?

By the way, "native Americans" are also ultimately in the American continent by immigration, whether you track back to Adam and Eve or a migration over a land bridge (during an ice age), supposing all humans originated from the African continent.

 

You have done your cause of admitting immigrants a diservice by your sloppy theology with regard to God not creating borders.  Obviously, God did create borders, countries, even provinces within Israel.  God blessed Israel with increased borders and punished them by allowing other nations to reduce them to servitude.  While people do make boundaries, they do not do so outside of God's control or purposes.  You cannot love a foreigner if there are no foreigners.  You cannot love enemies if there are no enemies.  Loving your enemies is much larger issue than loving illegal immigrants, who you may love while still denying entry.  Illegal immigrants want to join you, not destroy you as enemies.  Equating entry to being born again is like equating buying a new car to being born again;  it is rather trivial in comparison, and diminishes your christian faith. 

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