Right now, in our culture, illegal immigration is a hot button issue not only within the secular world, but also in the christian world. Currently, as I am typing this, there is a bill that is being considered in the Iowa Legislature that would force local government to comply with the federal government concerning sanctuary cities. As both sides of the table rage about this issue, the question comes to christians, “How do we view illegal immigration in light of the Great Commission?” Do we support upholding the laws of our land, and if we do, does this compromise the Great Commission?
The first point I would like to explore is defining the Great Commission. The Great Commission is found both in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15. The three big ideas in the Great Commission are as follows: 1. Go 2. Make disciples of Christ 3. Grow disciples of Christ. This of course is done through the simple idea that is given in Mark 16:15, “…preach the gospel…” The gospel put frankly is that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day providing a way of salvation for any who would believe on Him. If we sum up the Great Commission as just proclaiming the gospel, we would have to come to the conclusion that illegal immigration is more than just ok, it is preferred as it makes our job easier. The issue of course, is the Great Commission is not simply to just proclaim the gospel, it is to grow disciples and demands that we go to others with the gospel. In light of this we see that as christians we are to invest their lives in others and make it a point to go to them.
The second point I would like to explore is the christian’s responsibility to governmental authority. Simply put, the christian’s responsibility is to obey the authorities that are in place (See Romans 13:1 ). This responsibility of course comes with one exception, that it doesn’t go against a command from God (See Acts 5:29). Since there is no command in Scripture to harbor those who have illegally come into our country, the conclusion is simple that all christians should be against illegal immigration and to obey the authorities that God has placed in our life.
The final point I would like us to go over is some common questions people have concerning illegal immigration in light of the Great Commission.
Doesn’t Jesus love the world, and that includes illegal immigrants? Absolutely, He does! Jesus died not for my sins only but for the sins of the whole world (See 1John 2:2). If God has given you a burden for a specific people group, you should consider if God has called you to fulfill the Great Commission by becoming a missionary and going to them to proclaim the gospel!
Won’t illegal immigrants have a better chance of hearing the gospel in the United States? Actually, the USA has the third largest population of unchurched people (behind only China and India). Chances are that since you are unwilling to share the gospel with your co-workers and neighbors, you also wouldn’t be willing to share the gospel with an illegal immigrant. Until the American church starts telling others the gospel of Jesus Christ (That He died on the cross for our sins, rose again to make a way of salvation for us), we can’t even have the conversation of asking if the ends justify the means (although in full disclosure my stance would remain the same).
What can I do? The first action you can take as a christian is to pray. Pray that God would give you a burden to reach the lost and give you boldness to share the gospel. Remember prayer without action is pointless, so the second action is to share the gospel with others. Tell those around you that Christ died for their sins and that He rose again to make a way of salvation for them, all they must do is call upon Him (See Romans 10:13). If we are going to look at any issue in light of the Great Commission we first must be fulfilling the Great Commission and that means going to others and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to them! The last action I would encourage you to take is that if you truly have a burden for illegal immigrants that you consider fulfilling the Great Commission by going to their country. Remember that to fulfill the Great Commission you must Go, make disciples of Jesus Christ (by proclaiming the gospel), and growing disciples of Jesus Christ by teaching them the Scriptures. If you do this please don’t forget to teach them Romans 13:1, and how they should not illegally immigrate to the United States.