The Bible has much to say about foreigners living in the land of God’s people, with the laws applying to both native born and foreigners equally (Numbers 15:13-16; see also Lev 18:26, Lev 24:16). Foreigners were to be treated well (see Lev 19:10,34; Lev 25:35). Lest anyone think that foreigners are somehow inferior to the native born, we should remember that in the lineage of Jesus, two foreigners are specifically mentioned: Rahab from Jericho and Ruth from Moab (Matt 1:5) The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) also reminds us that Jesus broadened the concept of ‘neighbour’ to include all people.
There are incredible opportunities for Christians to share the love of Christ with immigrants and refugees. Lebanese church leaders Camille and Stefan, for example, are seeing hundreds of Syrian refugees arrive destitute on their church doorstep, turn to Christ, experience miraculous healings and even express gratitude for their trauma – because it has enabled them to discover a God of love. Stefan’s exhortation is worth pondering: ‘I have a word for Europe,’ he says. ‘They are going in millions to Germany, to Britain, to all Europe. You should now move quickly for them, show them love. Tell them about Jesus. If we don’t do it quickly, their hearts will become rocky. There are Islamists there; they will reach them. There are fish; go fishing now. If you wait, they will become sharks later. We need to go quickly and help them before ISIS take them and send them to fight you, and send them back to fight us here. You couldn’t go to Iraq or Syria to reach them, but now God is sending them to you.’
We often feel helpless to do anything, believing that political solutions are beyond our grasp. Change can only start from within. In 2013 the Independent reported that the UK made £12.bn from arms sales to repressive regimes around the world, most of which are in the Middle East and Africa – such behaviour cannot help an already explosive situation. Christians need to be involved with politics and seek to campaign and work for righteousness at all levels. On a personal level, we often feel there is little we can do to effect change. Matt 10:16-17 reminds us of the need for wisdom, but Jesus also commands us to show mercy to all, even those with whom we might feel little affinity (see Luke 10:36-37). We are called to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9) who love even our enemies (Matt 5:43-48). The standard is high.