Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Once They are Here

Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about refugees in recent days. Specifically it's the Syrian refugee crisis that has been dominating headlines. I understand people's fears. I understand people's concerns. Safety. Way of life. Expense. I've heard these concerns and more. I understand why people are encouraging their senators and representatives, trying to halt the flow. Whether I agree or not, I understand.

But, here's my question: What should our response be once they are here?

I don't mean Syrians specifically. I mean refugees. ...including Syrians and others from "suspicious areas". Once they're here, how should we respond?

I'm not sure what the general population thinks, but I think I know how Jesus thinks:
  • The "good Samaritan" dared to help someone, putting himself at personal risk. (It could've been a trap. The robbers may have been lurking nearby.) This is "being a neighbor". I should likewise help others, even if it may endanger myself.
  • I've heard people complain that "those people" want to hurt us. That they are our enemies. But Jesus said, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)." Guess what! You can't love people without getting involved! That's right! Engage the enemy... with LOVE!
  • Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who were literally killing him. And I mean literally in the literal sense, not the ironic sense. If he can do that, and if I'm supposed to follow his lead... Oh, my goodness...
  • Jesus said that perfect love casts out fear. If I have no fear before God, I ought have no fear before man. "So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?' (Hebrews 13:6 ESV) What, indeed?
  • And if I do fear?
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV) 

  • And this...
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’(Matthew 25:34-40 ESV)” 
I think Jesus would say, "Welcome them. Welcome them into your communities. Welcome them into your homes. Love them. Help them. Be light to them." I see in Jesus no other response but this.

We may disagree with our federal government. We may assert that our leaders are foolish and irresponsible for letting certain people into this country. Maybe it truly is in the best interest of the country to exclude certain kinds of refugees. In that, perhaps it is okay to put our country first.

Be that as it may, can we at least agree that once refugees arrive, one they are here, once they are in our neighborhoods and communities, our hearts and lives must be guided by a higher authority and higher values than patriotism and safety?

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