“Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart” (Zechariah 7:9–10).
The Old Testament clearly teaches that ancient Israelites were expected to love their fellow Israelites and treat them justly (Leviticus 19:18; Micah 6:8). However, specific guidance was also given concerning the treatment of the needy, probably landless, non-Israelites who lived within Israel’s borders. These individuals are usually described in English translations of the Bible as strangers, sojourners, aliens, or foreigners. Israel was commanded not to withhold fair wages from these foreigners, and not to oppress or mistreat them. They were also challenged to actively provide for their needs (Deuteronomy 24:14–21).
Likewise, in the New Testament Jesus taught that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). In a famous parable, Jesus challenged his hearers to define “neighbor” broadly as including people of different cultural and ethnic heritages (Luke 10:30–37). Also, Jesus made it clear that the righteous will be commended for their kindness to the stranger (Matthew 25:35).
As Christians, we should embody and promote love and justice for all people regardless of their origin, nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation or culture. We are called to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world. We live in a world that is divided by various political, national, and ideological affiliations. However, we must not allow such divisions to interfere with our evangelistic mission or the unity of the body of Christ.
In the current situation of increasing global terror and violence, many displaced people understandably are seeking refuge in stable regions of the world. While we are all rightly concerned for our own safety and security, we must not allow our fear to motivate us to hateful speech or actions against innocent refugees. At the same time, we must work to prevent further acts of terror and violence, and this involves implementing security procedures and precautions. While there are no easy answers or solutions, Christians must remain compassionate toward those in need. In all our thoughts, words, and actions toward refugees, we should be mindful of Jesus’ words. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Note: The UPCI does not hold a position on the United States’ (or any other nation’s) foreign policy or immigration policy, nor does it plan to do so in the future. Our statement is intended to provide general guidance that would apply to all refugee situations existing throughout the world, including those created by war, religious persecution, and natural disasters. The statement is intended to encourage our members to maintain respect for all humans while conducting discussions surrounding refugees. The church of Jesus Christ has and should have a different perspective from the world. We view everyone as created in God’s image and as people for whom Christ died. Furthermore, we look for opportunities to minister to souls, redeem them from sin, and reconcile them to God. As a global organization, the UPCI has missionaries and local churches working in the current situations. We want to discourage harsh or violent language that would jeopardize these evangelistic and discipleship efforts, bring reproach upon the church, or misrepresent the mission of the church of Jesus Christ.