Tag Archives: mercy

Christian Response to Illegal Immigration

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brandieIn recent months, thousands of illegal immigrant children have crossed over the Mexico border into the United States.  These children range in age from 17 down to 5 and 6 years old.  They are without parents or guardians, they do not speak the English language, and they are here without any belongings in a foreign country.  This volatile immigration crisis has already cost the United States $263 million this year alone, adding a substantial burden to our government’s pre-existing financial budget crisis.

I’ve read many statements and articles about this current immigration crisis, and to be honest, I’m not sure what my opinion should be.  My heart aches for these children who were so freely sent across the border and are now living in unknown territory with both hostile protestors wanting these children gone and friendly faces who are willing to take them in and give them the bare necessities to survive.  The judicious part of me recognizes this as complete disregard and disobedience towards the laws of this land and therefore they should be treated as illegal immigrants and sent back to their country.   But then I find myself asking again… is this what Christ would do to these children?

The subject of these illegal immigrant children has created great debates among politicians, educators, families and friends, and even church members.  Both sides of this debate are very passionate about their opinions and seek out to have their beliefs justified.  I read all of this and find myself asking… what should my response be?  And more importantly, what should my CHRISTIAN response be?  Putting my heart and feelings aside, what does the Bible tell me about illegal immigration?

Democrat or Republican, Christian or non-Christian, we all believe this one truth – if you enter into a country illegally, you are violating the nation’s laws.  There is a proper way to enter into a country and those laws are set in place not only for the country’s safety, but for those traveling as well.  As Christians, not only do we believe that it is against the law to illegally cross borders into another country, but that those illegal aliens are also breaking the laws of God.

This is what the Bible tells us about obeying our governing authorities in Romans 13:1-5: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Whether we personally voted for or agree with our current government leaders, we must still respect them.  This means, we must respect their governing decisions whether we agree with them or not, knowing that God’s will is better than our own and that He will use every opportunity to bring others into His kingdom.  1 Peter 2:13-14 reminds us, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”  This does not mean we must agree with them or refrain from sharing our opinion when asked, but we must speak with respect to our authority figures and governing officials.  We must believe that our elected officials will uphold the laws of the land and God.  We must believe that our government will find the best solution for those who break the laws and believe they will judge them accordingly because they have been given the divine authority to do so.  We must believe that our government will prevent similar situations from occurring again.  Whether or not our government enforces the established laws, the church (and individual Christians) should not knowingly support illegal activity.  To do so, would be breaking the will of God as well as condoning the sins of others, including illegal immigrants.  To be clear, those who violate the laws of the government are also violating the laws of God and this is sin; those who support or assist in the violating of the laws of both land and God is sinning.

At the very same time, Christians are called to have compassion and mercy for others, including those who have knowingly broken the laws.  We must somehow separate the fact that the citizens of Mexico have illegally sent their children across the border and broken the law.  We must express compassion and mercy in both our thoughts and our actions.  Our hearts must not be hardened to those who sin, regardless of age or circumstance.  Our hearts must not be hardened to those who illegally cross borders seeking refuge, work, or a better life for themselves and their family.

But dare I say that these children did not knowingly break the law but were likely forced to cross the border?  Would this change our hearts towards their status within our country?  Would we render aid faster, educate them, and feed and clothe them if we found out they were forced across borders and left behind parents and families who had already deserted them?  Would this make a difference in the eyes of God? 1 John 3:17 says, But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”  Regardless of how or why these small and vulnerable children entered our country, I think it would be best if we helped them on their feet and equipped them with skills and resources to go back to their country.  This might require our own citizens to help and render aid.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  As citizens of eternal heaven, Christians need to remember that we too have broken the laws of the land and the laws of God.  None of us are without sin.  The laws of land do vary in regards to the consequences served, but in the eyes of God, you sinned.  We have all disobeyed God and we all have the ability to accept His grace and mercy.  To show Christ to others, we must all extend that same grace and mercy to others.

Our best answer to the illegal immigration crisis right now can be found in Scripture and through the loving nature of our God. What is God calling you to do to help our country with this crisis?  How is God calling you to help these immigrant children?

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Grace and Mercy

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graceGod’s grace is likely one of the most esteemed and fundamental principles of the Christian faith.  As Christians, we have all been saved by the grace of God through salvation.  He promises us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Grace is an unmerited gift from the Holy Spirit; it frees us from our sins.  There is no other way to please God than by accepting His mercy and grace, and living and walking daily in His presence.

However, grace doesn’t stop here.  Grace and mercy go hand in hand and both are something Christians need to be practicing and extending to others on a daily basis.  Grace began in the manifestation of God.  The greatest appearance of grace was the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, born to the unwed Virgin Mary.  We believe in Jesus Christ and believe that He died on the cross to bear our sins.  He lived a sinless and blameless life yet was scorned and shamed.  He was whipped and pierced for our transgressions.  He was labeled a criminal and hung on a cross.  He died a cruel and painful death because of our sins.  Jesus hung from the cross, gasping for air and spoke, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  This is the saving grace of God.  Even as sinners, as people who mocked and rejected Him, He never abandoned His place on earth.  He went as far as to ask the Father to forgive us for the pain we caused Him as He hung and died on that cross.

We aren’t deserving of God’s grace and mercy yet we receive them and treasure them.  We put our faith in the heart of the Gospel that defines the true meaning of love.  And while we are never outside of God’s grace and mercy, as sinners we acknowledge the need for His merciful grace on a daily basis.

While we accept God’s grace and mercy, how well do we extend the same blessings to other people? Sin is sin in the eyes of God; our sin is no less than other peoples.  Are our family members, neighbors, and enemies beyond OUR grace and mercy?  Are their sins more grievous, is their lifestyle more sinful, is their life more in shambles than our own?  We all at one time or another reveled in our sins, and if some of us were to be honest, we may still be delighting in our sins behind closed doors.  We are all disobedient and we follow our sinful thoughts and desires.  We have all turned our backs on the Creator; we deserve our punishment for our wrongdoings.  But because God loved us unconditionally, because God is rich in His mercy and grace, we have been made alive in Christ Jesus.  It is by grace that we have been saved.  And yet so many Christians do not truly understand the meaning of grace and mercy.

What is your response when you see a person hurting?  What is your response when you see a person out of jail and looking for a job?  What about that homeless man asking for food or spare change?  What is your reaction to the LGBT community, persons from another faith, or people with a different skin color than you?  Do you offer up that same grace and mercy that Christ so freely gave to you?

The issue of extending grace has been heavy on my heart for years.  To be honest, it was not an easy lesson and one that I had to truly be mindful about.  It was too easy for me to look the other way, to ignore those who were different than me, or to simply shrug my shoulders at someone who was suffering the consequences for their own choices and actions.  What I learned through my lessons of grace was that I too could be suffering greatly from my own choices in life.  The difference was, that I accepted God’s grace for my life.  In the same way, we ought to be like Christ extending grace to others.  1 Peter 2:21 says this, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

This is our test of faith.  How well do we truly accept and appreciate God’s grace?  Do we offer grace to others for their choices, even if their choices hurt or wronged us?  Do we love our neighbors as we love Christ?  Do we love our enemies well and ask God to bless them? Do you show mercy and compassion for those who are hurting or struggling in life?

Grace is a gift to us from God.  Let us not dismiss the example of Jesus Christ lest we become like the Pharisees who knew their bible and yet missed the heart of Christ.  Let us begin to extend grace and mercy to everyone we encounter.

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