Throughout the Bible, we read accounts of people who are taken into slavery or who depart from one nation in search of refuge in another place. The Israelites were oppressed by the Egyptians until Moses led them out of bondage. The Judeans were deported to Babylonia. These people were not always treated with respect and would experience persecution and exile.
When leading the children of Israel to a new land, Moses received specific counsel from God, teaching “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21)
We see this commonly now in the modern world. There are many people seeking refuge or immigrating from other countries seeking peace and a new life due to oppressive or dangerous circumstances in their homeland. Some people may feel that this is unfair or wrong, which creates feelings of contention and divisions between those who “belong” and those who are “outsiders”.
As Christians, a fundamental part of our beliefs is the understanding that all people are children of God.
While political and worldly tension may arise, we adhere to this foundational principle to dictate our actions. We allow it to direct the way in which we respond to refugees and immigrants that are seen as strangers in a new land.
During His time on the Earth, Jesus reaffirmed the importance of accepting all people and gave commandments and counsel to help us understand how to treat those who are not like us, especially those who are immigrants or refugees that may seem very different or foreign to us.
Jesus taught us three things that we can do to show love and respect to all people, and in this case, to those who are immigrants or refugees.
1) Offer service
Jesus gave us an example to emulate in the way that He gave service to any and everyone who had faith in Him and asked for His help. He did not discriminate because of status, race, religion, or political view. He simply offered service to any who needed Him.
We can emulate this example by finding ways to serve those who are not like ourselves. When we reach out and perform charitable acts without reservation for those who are different from us, we can show respect and kindness as Jesus did.
2) Show compassion
No one is perfect. We all ask for understanding, compassion, and empathy from God. If this is something we hope for from God for ourselves, we must also give this to those around us.
People that are immigrants or refugees have had experiences and hardships that may be difficult to imagine. As we listen and seek to understand, we can show compassion just as Jesus did to those that He would serve. When we show this type of compassion and love to others, we are really showing it to our Savior Jesus.
3) Give love
Truly embracing the teaching that we are all children of God means that we learn to love everyone – they are all our brothers and sisters. We are all sons and daughters of God. He loves all of us equally and sees us with all the love of a benevolent Father. Jesus sees us all in this same light and loves us perfectly.
When we choose to love and accept those around us, we are choosing to draw closer to God and to our brother Jesus.