The Israelites knew what it was like to be foreigners in a hostile country, so as God was bringing them into the Promised Land He was very clear that, in the land He was giving them, Israel would treat foreigners like citizens and love them well (Leviticus 19:34). In this way the Law was steeped in empathy, with love for neighbor defined especially as the stranger and foreigner amongst them.
This may sound shocking and counterintuitive to us with our modern legal system for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers but, as the prophet Isaiah said, God’s ways have always been higher than our ways (55:9). This empathetic posture toward foreigners was only strengthened and reinforced through Jesus’ time on Earth (Matt 8:20).
As Christ-followers today, here’s what we know: We are sinners saved by grace. We who were once outsiders are, “no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” (Eph 2:19) God, who was and is and always will be, upholds His ethical standards through the ages which are carried out by those who are faithful to His word and ultimately fulfilled perfectly through Jesus.
Remember the burden of sin? Let us not place additional burdens on the migrant. Remember our separation from God? Let us be the most hospitable people the world has ever seen. Remember the gift of the cross? For the sake of Christ, let us consider others as greater than ourselves, and love as He loves.
Read Ephesians 2. Meditate today on what it means to be a citizen of Heaven, how God’s Kingdom is for all people, and how that affects the way we should treat the people around us.