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Remember Your True Citizenship, Love the Foreigner

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While immigration remains a divisive topic in America, differing views on politics and policies should not distract Christians from their calling to love others. This is especially true at a time when immigration is on the rise—a recent report shows that the number of immigrants in America’s biggest counties grew drastically between 2021 and 2022. 

Immigration isn’t a new issue in our country, and it likely isn’t going away any time soon. It’s no secret that Republicans and Democrats have different stances on the topic. But as believers, we can’t allow these political arguments to prevent us from fulfilling our calling as Christ-followers. Whenever we encounter immigrants and refugees, we have one job—to love and serve them in their humanity. 

Moses reminds the Israelites in Deuteronomy 10:18, “[God] defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

In this passage, Moses sets the standard for how we are to treat foreigners; namely, with love. We’re also reminded that we are no different and no better than immigrants or refugees. Each of us has received God’s undeserved grace. The grace of God is a free gift to everyone, regardless of their color, class, culture, or even borders

Through my church’s missions work and outreach efforts, I’ve been able to spend one-on-one time with immigrants and refugees all around the world. As I’ve listened to their stories, their struggles, and their reasons for hope, I’ve found myself time and again challenged and encouraged. I have seen and heard the cries of immigrants and refugees from Mexico, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Palestine, and Israel, and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that their cries are much the same. They’re cries for safety, peace, and empathy, and a need for practical love to be extended to them. 

What a privilege we have as ambassadors of reconciliation to offer these very things in the name of Jesus. Through the opportunities I’ve had to interact with immigrants and refugees, there are a few important perspectives I’ve gained. 

First and foremost, I’ve been reminded of the true citizenship of a Christian. We are ultimately citizens of the Kingdom of God, and as his ambassadors, we are called to extend the love of God with the understanding that this earth is not our true home. I’ve also come to a deeper understanding of my calling to serve. God will reward us for serving others in his name, not for holding others to our human standards of legality. Finally, I’ve grown in my desire to serve selflessly. Without personal sacrifice, we’re not really serving. It may be charitable, but it is not noble. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s not get so caught up in political arguments about immigration that we overlook our true citizenship and neglect to serve selflessly. Let’s remember that God calls us to extend positive favor to others regardless of, and sometimes because of, their color, class, or culture—something that I call gracism

Any of us, at any time, could find ourselves displaced and in need of the kindness of strangers. These are real circumstances that are in no way far-fetched. Such circumstances do not define your humanity, but they truly do define your Christianity.

Our earthly citizenship carries so little weight compared to our glorious status as children of God. If you believe this, then the next time you come across someone from another country, background or culture, extend positive favor toward them as if they matter to God, and to you.