BIBLE SPEAKS CLEARLY ON MIGRANTS
By LORETTA FULTON
If you find yourself confused about how Christians should respond to migrants and refugees, it’s pretty simple. Just pick up a Bible and read passages from either the Old Testament or the New Testament.
That was the crux of the message delivered March 21 by Mark Hamilton, a professor of Old Testament in Abilene Christian University’s College of Biblical Studies. Hamilton was featured speaker for a program sponsored by ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts.
Hamilton is the author of a new book published by Eerdmans, which is due out in May. The book is titled, “Jesus, King of Strangers: What the Bible Really Says About Immigration.”
According to Hamilton, the Bible has plenty to say about immigration and its message is clear. In the book of Exodus, God warns the Isrealites against oppresssing and mistreating migrants, reminding them, “You were migrants in the land of Egypt.” The migrants have a story similar to that of the Israelites and God reminds them that they should show empathy and welcome the strangers.
In the New Testament, Jesus teaches that whoever shows mercy and kindness to “the least of these,” whether strangers, children, widows, the oppressed or anyone else on the fringes of society, does likewise to him. And, Jesus gives a message in his commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
Hamilton reminded that Jesus did not say, “Love your neighbor as yourself, unless he or she is undocumented.”
The Bible speaks in one voice about migrants and immigration, Hamilton said, and it is discouraging to hear the church speak in muliple voices. How Christians respond to immigrants isn’t about politics.
“It’s about our own lives as Christians,” Hamilton said.
Christians may be asking themselves what they can do in the face of so much noise regarding immigrants and immigration. Hamilton chose to write a book. Although he has written others, the latest holds a special place in his heart.
“I think this is the one–at least for now,” Hamilton said, “that has the most of my heart in it.”