This article is not about how the U.S. should handle the massive influx of children illegally crossing the boarder. I do not pretend to understand all of the variables involved in this complex issue and it is not my intention to argue in favor of any particular form of legislation or promote any one solution. In fact, I’m not interested in politics at all (at least within the context of what I’m about to say). This article is about our attitude toward thousands of impoverished at-risk youth living in conditions so bad they’re willing to risk their lives just to make it to our boarder. More specifically, it’s about Christians who allegedly love God yet make disparaging, heartless, and down right selfish comments about illegal immigrants. It’s about those who claim to know the Lord but, through their actions (or lack thereof) and attitudes hate His divine image.
Let us begin with a self examination. Do you find yourself looking down on those who illegally cross our boarders? Do you find them an inconvenience or a nuisance? Do you resent them? Do you find yourself indifferent to their plight? Do you feel they are underserving of your charity? Are you angry or embittered by their presence? Do they annoy you? Do you believe their plight is no business of yours? . . . If you answered yes to any of these questions it’s important for you to realize these feelings stand in complete opposition to the Gospel. They are selfish, prideful, heartless feelings. They are, in short, sinful attitudes unbefitting a follower of Christ (oh yes, I went there).
Let’s review three crucial points of theology to help us understand why:
(1) Man Is Made in the Image of God
Christians believe every man, woman, and child has objective value, dignity, and worth because everyone–no matter their age, race, culture, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation–is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-28; Wisdom 2:23).
(2) We are Commanded to Love our Neighbor
Christ states that the first and greatest commandment is to Love God, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Interestingly, our Lord follows this by stating that the second commandment is like the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:39-40). Why is loving our neighbor with all of our might like loving God with all of our being? Because man is made in the image of God. Therefore, anyone who truly loves God will truly love His image and likeness. This is why Jesus also taught that to discard, belittle, or ignore those in need is to discard, belittle and ignore Him.
(3) If We Don’t Love our Neighbor, We Don’t Know God
The Bible teaches it is impossible to know God–to have saving faith or a personal relationship with Him–and harbor ill-will or hate in our heart toward our neighbor (I John 2: 9-11; 4: 20-21). St. James, echoing the teaching of our Lord, states that a faith without love (i.e., works) is dead (Matt. 7:17-23; 25:31-46; James 2:14-26).
Take a moment and seriously dwell upon these truths. In fact, take time to look up the passages I’ve cited and let them sink in. Then, ask yourself if your attitude toward illegal immigrants (not the impersonal concept “illegal immigration” but the actual people: the helpless children, the father’s desperate to be with their families, the women fleeing sex traffickers . . . ) is truly a Christian one. Forget your political affiliation, forget your nationality, forget your social status. If you profess to be a Christian you claim, first and foremost, to be a citizen of the City of God; a part of the Kingdom of Heaven; a member of the Body of Christ. Your deepest and truest loyalties transcend all worldly categories and all worldly affiliations. Your chief duty is to love, to serve, and to lay down your life for your neighbor (including your enemies). This is your chief duty precisely because the greatest commandment is to Love God; but it is impossible to truly love God and hate His image.
As I peruse Facebook statuses, read comments on news articles, and listen in on conversations, I grow disheartened. I am appalled and embarrassed by the reprehensible attitudes of professed Christians toward illegal immigrants. I feel disgusted by those who, in virtue of their attitudes, fail to empathize with or care for those suffering and in dire need of help; and I wonder how long we shall ignore the sound of their voices screaming for help?
My American brothers and sisters, please stop. Stop speaking heartlessly; stop acting selfishly; stop worshiping your country; stop discriminating based on nationality; stop discarding, belittling, and ignoring your neighbors; stop your crummy attitudes. My dear brothers and sisters, love your neighbor as you love yourself; for without love you are nothing.