Jesus and Refugees

Syria’s four-year civil war slaughtered more than 200,000 people and made Syrian life torture.

Islamist fighters systematically rape men, women, boys and girls in acts of war and evangelism. Rape warehouses make the biggest profit on children under age nine. Ten Jihadists rape a non-Muslim woman to convert her to Islam.

ISIS crucifies Christians, cuts off 42 people’s ears, and forces a starving mother to eat her three-year-old son. ISIS boasts about hanging hogtied-men from a swing set and burning them alive.

No wonder more than four million refugees have fled Syria. At least the overcrowded refugee camps provide for basic needs. But the 17-year average stay is not inviting. Many pay $1,000 for a death-defying passage to Europe.

Humans have always been willing to risk their lives for their own freedom and safety. But how much will I risk for someone else’s?

The violence and statistics are dizzying. Sometimes sorrow adds pounds to my heart. Sometimes I want to stop reading. Sometimes politics are confusing. And sometimes ethnic stereotypes are shocking.

I’ll never forget when someone all but asked if my Pakistani uncle was a terrorist.

“No!” I don’t remember if I let out a shocked laugh or just stared. “He’s one of the most patient, solid Christians I know.”

Racial and political tensions are electric and wired to the heart. How dangerous is it to bring potential terrorists into the country? Why does my political party want to build a wall to exclude refugees?

Have we forgotten that Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free”? Do we know someone killed by a terrorist? Do we think it’s not our problem?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I can’t heal or rewire hearts. But Christians, the subject of refugees is not about politics or terrorists. It’s an age old story that’s not nearly as complicated as we make it. We don’t need a degree to understand it.

Once, a man, we’ll call him Dave, lay beaten and bloody on the side of the road. Another man, call him Sam, walked over and helped Dave. Sam carried Dave to safety and medical treatment.

Staring at a dying man, Sam didn’t consider the danger of helping an ethnic enemy. Sam didn’t wonder if he could afford Dave’s housing and medical treatment until Dave could support himself. He didn’t ponder politics or community opinion.

Sam saw a bleeding man, and he helped him.

It’s a story as old as Jesus, and a question we’ve always asked. What must I do to be good enough?

Jesus gave a simple answer, but not an easy one. It’s the same answer today.

We don’t need to figure out politics or evil. We need answer only one question. What would we want from others if we were the refugees? Dying on the side of the road, drowning in an overcrowded boat, homeless in a violent world, what would we want?

Jesus never answers the political questions. He doesn’t discuss past hurts or current dangers, though Jesus’ time clearly held equal pain and death.

Jesus simply says, help your neighbor and love your enemies.


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