I first wrote about the topic of immigration during the racial reconciliation series in 2012. In the post simply titled “Immigration,” I wrestled with my concerns as a Christian. Since that time, I have been paying attention to the many evangelical leaders who understand that immigration is a biblical justice issue and are therefore working to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.
Today I am thankful for this thoughtful post from fellow Redbud, Catherine McNiel, as she writes about immigration and loving her neighbors. Welcome, Catherine!
Jesus taught that all of Scripture could be summed up by the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” He then used a parable to explain that “neighbor” doesn’t just mean those living next door, but anyone we encounter in need.
Where I live, most of my neighbors are immigrants, many of them both recent and undocumented. This means that in both the literal and figurative sense of Jesus’ command, the undocumented immigrant is my neighbor. I am commanded to love my undocumented neighbor just as earnestly and faithfully as I love God himself.
For many in the United States, immigration is a justice issue, but an abstract one. In the current events of our nation we are debating how to proceed in a way that provides justice both from them and for them.
For my family, immigration is not an abstract question. The often anonymous, theoretical group labeled “undocumented immigrants” are our flesh and blood friends, neighbors, classmates, and schoolmates. We rub shoulders at the grocery store, library, and park. We worship with them in church and visit in each other’s houses. And let me tell you – when you are sitting in a person’s home, hearing their stories, sharing their food and their life – injustice stops being abstract right away.