Distinguishing Between Church & Government Role in Refugee Debate
Jesus was clear that the Gospel must be preached in all the world and then the end would come. There is no denying that as believers we must do everything in our power to preach the Gospel and make the most of every opportunity we are given.
So when President Trump decided to temporarily ban refugees from 7 nations from entering the United States, some "intense fellowship" resounded across Christendom. On both sides of the debate, points are well made and biblical truth is evident in all sides of the argument.
How are we to respond to this?
First off, it's important to remember that the government of America's role is different from the church.
Franklin Graham wrote this, "Some people seem to have forgotten that the priority of the president of the United States is protecting the Constitution and the safety of Americans. That’s exactly what President Trump is trying to do. Taking action to secure our borders had to start somewhere. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but it is a first step. As they work on solutions during this 90-day travel ban, unfortunately there are some innocent families caught in this time of transition.
I think that a thorough vetting process really needs to apply to people coming into the U.S. from all countries—not just 7. We have to be sure that the philosophies of those entering our country are compatible with our Constitution. If a person does not agree with our principles of freedom, democracy, and liberty, which we cherish, they should not be allowed to come. Without question, Sharia law is not compatible.
Some are also criticizing Christians who support the president’s position on immigration—and I’m one of those being criticized. But we have to realize that the president’s job is not the same as the job of the church. As Christians we are clearly taught in the Bible to care for the poor and oppressed."
The first step every Christian needs to take is to pray fervently for our leaders that we could live out our faith freely in our nation. Trump making the decision to put America first and protect our borders comes as no surprise. He talked about all throughout his campaign, so following through on what he said and why people voted for him means he is keeping his word and promise.
Secondly, the 7 nations that we're blocked from entering America are known for terror and leading radical Islamist terror groups. They pose a real threat. Is everyone from these nations a terrorist? Of course not. However, something is clearly wrong with the immigration system and drastic times call for drastic measures. Something needs to change here.
Thirdly, our role as believers absolutely does not change. We must continue praying for and reaching out to serve, love, and share Christ in word and deed with refugees, minorities, whites, blacks, etc. just as we always have. Our citizenship is first and foremost of heaven, and as such we must show love and care for everyone, everywhere, even our enemies.
Fourth, America does not have the ability to solve the entire world's problems. We have our own challenges and problems within that we are working through. But that doesn't mean because our government has chosen for a time to not allow refugees from certain nations into America, that we are stopped from going to them and bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ and his love to those suffering. Jesus commanded us to go, so maybe this is our opportunity.
Fifth, Israel was commanded in the Old Testament to care for the foreigner among them. The Bible is clear that all people are created in God's image and therefore hold incredible value in his eyes. As believers we have a responsibility to help and a passion to minister to the physical needs of these refugees. We know that anything we do to in Christ's name, we are doing for him. And whatever we fail to do for others, we fail to do for Christ. This is a huge responsibility in every way, shape and form.
So in light of the recent refugee ban, as Christians how are we to respond? No differently in anyway. The President's office is not responsible for our Christian witness. One of the main roles of the office of President and of foremost responsibility is the protection of our nation.
If you look at biblical Israel, they were extremely fierce in their opposition to their many enemies and the protection of their nation, cities, and families. It's naive to think America has no enemies. We do.
Likewise in Israel, Nehemiah and the builders of the wall around Jerusalem held a sword in one hand and built the wall with the other hand. They acknowledged enemies and kept them at bay. As such they built a thriving city and restored Jerusalem. Protection of human life was the most important role of the military and King in the land. Their first responsibility was not the welcoming of foreigners into the land. Their first responsibility was to steward what God had given them, and protect their own.
With that said, as Christians we are commanded to go into all the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. So whether our government allows refugees to come to us or we go to them, we must continue the work of bringing his good news to all nations.