How should love change the way we participate in today’s immigration debate?
A big piece of the answer was posted recently at The Gospel Coalition by DNA board member, Tyler Johnson.
Tyler is the lead pastor of Redemption Church, a multi-congregational church in the Phoenix metro area, and co-director of the Surge Network. Tyler co-authored the piece with Jim Mullins, pastor of theological education and cultural engagement for Redemption Church.
Romans 13 is regarded as the primary New Testament chapter on the role of government. Paul establishes government as God’s servant and representative: For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Rom 13:1 ESV) Accordingly, many Christ-followers see Romans 13 as the standard by which to expect the government to deal decisively with immigration concerns.
Tyler and Jim agree that Romans 13 assigns to the government responsibility to uphold the law. But they make an important point about the context: Romans 13 is immediately preceded by Romans 12, which “calls the church to be shaped by God’s mercy into a community marked by self-giving love … expressed through hospitality, generosity, blessing, humility, prayerful dependence, empathy, and … and feeding enemies.”
In other words, to demand that the government administer justice (per chapter 13) without first reckoning with the church’s responsibility to love (per chapter 12) is to short-circuit the structure, and thus gut the message, of the text.
Here are some highlights of the Johnson/Mullins post:
- If Romans 12 and Romans 13 are ever separated in our minds, we risk turning these precious words into cheap, self-righteous slogans like, “What part of illegal don’t you understand?” If we exclude Romans 12, we’re in danger of becoming passive people who don’t embrace the church’s role of bearing witness through self-giving love. If we exclude Romans 13, we’re in danger of becoming angry and confused people who lack proper respect for the role of government and the rule of law.
- … a small number of people within [immigrant] communities are involved in abhorrent activities like drug smuggling, murder, and human trafficking. But most immigrants are not. It’s important to view them through the lens of Scripture, rather than the sensationalistic, fear-mongering lens of a news crew’s camera.
- We live in a challenging and complex world, always faced with the temptation to be ruled by fear. But we know that fear drains our love, and love expels fear. When it comes to our relationships with our neighbors, fear and love are completely incompatible.
- Choosing love over fear doesn’t mean we’re ignorant of the real dangers and complexities of welcoming an immigrant population to our community. It simply means that we’ve entrusted our lives to God. The fear of God is the only legitimate form of fear.
Go here to read the entire article.
- Gary Brumbelow