I want to start by saying that my heart goes out to the families of everyone who was killed, maimed, or otherwise hurt in any way as a result of this horrific act of terrorism. I have been praying and will continue to pray for you.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to rationalize, excuse, or otherwise dismiss the awful acts of terrorism that were committed. It is only an attempt to provide a line of thinking from a Christian perspective that may have been largely overlooked.
The one thing that struck me was the following statement by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber who was killed early Friday, “I Don’t Have A Single American Friend.”
Why was that? Was it because he failed to reach out to other Americans and to offer himself friendly? Or was it because we American’s failed to reach out to him and to offer ourselves friendly, perhaps because of our prejudices against foreigners? I suspect it was probably a combination of the two.
What does the Bible say about how we should treat foreigners? Let’s take a look at some of the scripture.
You must not wrong a foreigner nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 22:21, NETBible
When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God
Leviticus 19: 33-34, NETBible
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, who justly treats the orphan and widow, and who loves resident foreigners, giving them food and clothing. So you must love the resident foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NETBible
The Lord says, “Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. Do not kill innocent people in this land.”
Jeremiah 22:3, NETBible
The above scripture says that we as Christians are supposed to love foreigners as ourselves, give them food and clothing, and that we should not wrong, oppress, exploit, or mistreat them.
What if Tamerlan would have reached out to an American for friendship? Or, better yet, what if American Christians would have reached out to him in love? I suspect that the outcome would (could) have been quite different. Perhaps, we would have never known the name “Tamerlan Tsarnaev.”
I’m as guilty of this as the next person. Perhaps I don’t reach out to foreigners as much as I should because of the natural barriers: linguistic, religious, cultural, and etc. Or perhaps I wasn’t aware of the scripture that speaks to this (I can’t have this excuse now!).
Whatever the reason, let us push past these barriers and reach out to the foreigners in our country in love, because, who knows, perhaps we can help prevent the next terrorist attack by doing this.
Please forgive us for our prejudices and other wrong thoughts and feelings toward foreigners. Please help us to see them as You do, as human beings that You love just as much as You love us. Help us to remember that our ancestors were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. Most of all, help us to remember that is it Your will for us to love foreigners as we love ourselves.
In Jesus’ mighty name we pray,
I would love to hear from you. Please post a comment below and I will respond to as many as I can.