I hope adding my bit of insight on the refugee issue will help bring more clarity and unity for the benefit of all of us.

In the heated debate on the issue the many details, both in the law and in Scripture, are easily missed. So it is very helpful to simply state the most obvious facts and seek to understand them in a way that honors God.

First from the Scripture – I find myself focusing on two biblical directives which in are competing aims, one for the church and one for the God-given duty of the government.

For the church – the abundant commands from God in the Bible make it clear that God’s people are expected to care for refugees.

Leviticus 19:9-10 says to provide food for them.

Leviticus 19:33-34 says to treat them as your own people.

Leviticus 25:35 says to treat them as your own family.

Psalm 146:8-9 says the Lord, Himself, cares for them.

Proverbs 14:31 says oppressing them is dishonoring to God.

Micah 6:8 says God commands us to show justice and kindness to them.

Matthew 25:40 says caring for them is like doing it to Jesus.

Mark 12:31 says we are to care for them like caring for ourselves.

Luke 6:27-28 says we are to take care even for our enemies.

Next, for the government – the Bible specifically states that God created government for the purpose of protecting its citizens against harm. This is one of the primary, God-given functions of government.

Romans 13:3-4 “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

It is accurate to say that God’s word commands both things: 1) there is a God-given duty to care for refugees, and 2) there is a God-given duty for the government to protect its citizens from evil acts.

Part of the difficulty in discussing this issue is that these are competing directives from God. How can we do both at the same time? Some people are going to be inclined first to feel compassion to care for those in need while others will think first about protecting citizens from harm. By using the word “competing” I do not mean they are contradictory directives. These are not a contradiction. Rather both are commanded by God and both are to be obeyed. But it does mean there will be an order. There will be a decision as to which one is done first.

In cases like this believers must submit to their higher authority. The government is our authority and currently has placed a temporary ban on refugees from some nations of origin. But God is our higher authority which means we are not to stop caring for refugees. Many continue to cross our borders now and need our care. In a few days the temporary ban will be lifted and more will enter needing our care. However there are many refugees needing our care which will never reach our borders. Acts 1:8 commands that we find a way to go care for them as well.

Go here to give to help Samaritan’s Purse care for refugees.