As I preached on What Would Jesus Say About Immigration? on Sunday, I hit on two wonderful aspects of the gospel that should inform how we think about immigration: justice and mercy.
It seems that currently those two words describe the rancor within the public debate about illegal immigrants. There are loud voices on the justice side who see nothing but a need to rid our nation of those who are illegally living within our nation, no matter how long they’ve lived here, no matter the status of their family situation, no matter the good they may be doing as hard-working contributors to their cities. These loud “justice” voices can see no cause for showing mercy for all they see are lawbreakers.
Those loud voices on the mercy side see nothing but a desire to welcome these immigrants with open arms with no possible consequences for their illegal status. They see no need for a path to legal status leading to citizenship. These loud “mercy” voices can see no cause for showing justice for all they see are people in need.
As is usually the case, the path lies somewhere in the middle. I’m no policy expert. However, there are some hopeful ideas that give illegal immigrants a path that includes both justice and mercy. We would all be wise to think about some of these complex issues not through loud rhetoric but through helpful dialogue.
How does the gospel inform our thinking about illegal immigrants and immigration/refugees? The gospel tells us that as rebels against our Creator we deserve His full wrath, justice. We are lawbreakers and God is just to condemn us as such. However, through the finished work or our Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t get what we deserve which is mercy. We receive forgiveness of our sins, adoption into God’s family, the righteousness of Christ, and the hope of eternal life in a resurrection body living on a new earth (all of this is grace).
If we have received mercy even in the midst of our just sentence, shouldn’t Christians be quick to offer the same to others, at least modeling it in some way? As Christians, we can’t look upon any cultural issue, any policy, any struggle we face as a nation through purely a secular world-view. Our Christian world-view radically changes how we see the world, it’s people, and the solutions needed for the problems and issues we face.
Properly thinking about all these issues reminds us of why we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Without reminding ourselves of the gospel, we easily drift from biblical thinking which should inform all our thoughts, words, and actions.