A Biblical Perspective on the Refugee Issue

Pastor Ronnie Floyd
Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Pinnacle Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Passion is high in America on issues relating to refugees. The pundits, politicians, and even preachers are weighing in. How do we find our way through these complex issues?

As followers of Jesus Christ, what is the balanced, biblical perspective? If we do not look at it biblically, we enter into dialogue without authority and clarity.

Three Practical Realities

There are three practical realities that are inescapable. It is imperative we understand these or we will get lost in the complexity of the issues.

Consider these three realities:

Love the Refugee

The Gospel of Jesus Christ moves me to call on all of us to demonstrate compassionate action toward the refugee. We need to honor and respect them individually for their God-given dignity. However, their long-term future in our nation is a political issue, not a spiritual one.

Fix the Immigration System

In prior writings about these issues, I have mentioned that negligent leadership and political polarization has now resulted in this American crisis. Our immigration system is not working. Otherwise, we would not be where we are today.

Immigration is a political issue and it needs to be addressed by our nation seriously and immediately. Therefore, this is not in the hands of the Church, but in the hands of our elected leadership. Justice and fairness in relationship to the law must be considered along with compassion and mercy toward all persons.

Pray Diligently

We must pray for our nation and for our leaders to come together and resolve this issue, both short-term and long-term. The lives of people are at stake. The security of our nation is at stake.

Where Do We Go from Here?

When we address this sensitive and challenging subject, our goal should be to see the issues through biblical lenses from God's perspective. Articles and talk show hosts may be helpful at times, but what God says is more important than what anyone else says about it.

The Responsibility of Government

Romans 13:4, "For government is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God's servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong."

Our government's first responsibility is to protect the American people. Each President in our nation takes the following oath of office: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Therefore, the President and the government in our nation must work together to protect the citizens of the United States. This means they must come together and resolve many issues regarding the security of our nation, including refugee, immigration, and border issues.

President Donald Trump was clear in his campaign and to this very day about his strategy relating to the security of our nation. Whether it is President Trump, a past president, or a future president, each has the responsibility to secure our nation. Due to the changing state of our world, this can look different from administration to administration.

During my 2016 term as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, a compassionate resolution was adopted entitled, "On Refugee Ministry," and I believe it would be worth reading. Please notice one line in this resolution that realized the biblical responsibility of government: "RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm;"

This line was included in the resolution because as followers of Christ, we must understand the tension that occurs because our government has a responsibility it is mandated to fulfill.

The Responsibility of the Church

The Church in America must pray for our president and all those in leadership in our nation. We, the Church, are not responsible for policy, but for people.

The Church is here to serve people. The Bible is very clear about how we must love the refugee and serve them compassionately.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19, "He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. You also must love the foreigner ...."

Foreigners and refugees are made in the image of God, should be loved, receive compassion and justice, and never be abused. Being pro-life means we care about everyone from the womb to the tomb, no matter their nationality, race, or religion. (Genesis 1:26-28Exodus 22:21-22, 23:9Deuteronomy 10:17-19Leviticus 19:34, Micah 6:8Zechariah 7:8-10, Matthew 25:35-40; and Romans 13:1)

While the Church prays for our president and political leaders to resolve these complex issues, our church and many others will continue our extensive efforts to serve the vulnerable here and abroad whatever the policy of the government. We do not advise the government regarding issues of national security and they do not advise us on who and how we serve.

The Church will continue to serve in this complex situation in America. Government will navigate these enormous challenges relating to national security, immigration reform, and the global humanitarian crisis. We would all do well to remember the longstanding policy of the humanitarian community is to prioritize assistance for those who face special threats because of their religious beliefs.

In my humble opinion, there should be no religious test except as it relates to those who face persecution because of their religious beliefs.

An Appeal to America

We are living in a dangerous world, and no one can deny the fact that terrorists — especially in Europe — have attempted to use our compassion against us.

Therefore, President Trump, his Cabinet, and the members of both houses of Congress must navigate together toward a resolution that protects our nation as well as operates with generosity and compassion. The Church should be careful with our words and judgments, giving them time to work through these long-existing, complex issues.

Furthermore, the Church should always stand ready nationally and globally to love all refugees, meeting their needs, the greatest of which is ultimately the same as ours: A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Believing and operating with biblical balance, we know the Church must realize biblically that the government's duty is to protect its citizens. Simultaneously, we must affirm the responsibility of the Church to minister to refugees who are brought inside the borders of America.

As Jesus said, "I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." (Matthew 25:40)

Now is the Time to Lead,

Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church

Originally posted at

Dr. Ronnie Floyd is Senior Pastor of Cross Church and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Follow him on Twitter @ronniefloyd.

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