2.19.2017

for the refugee

I fully admit that I don't know exactly what is happening in America right now. I see headlines about refugees banned, refugees not banned, the far-right and the far-left and the self-proclaimed balanced ones all telling different stories. I don't know what the policies really say or what's really going on. But I do know this. 

My Muslim classmate was going to visit California with her family, but isn't going anymore because her mother wears a head covering and they're afraid for her safety. 

I worked with Syrian refugees in Canada this week, and when I introduced myself I didn't want to say I am American. 

I am from a nation formed almost entirely of immigrants and refugees that is now known for closing itself off to those fleeing from terror. 

I know that these policies have been put in place and voted for and argued for the sake of national security. Even though refugees have been responsible for essentially zero violence in America, I understand why people might feel some kind of threat. My question is: so what? 

This might sound a little crazy, but honor me by taking a second to think about it. Jesus was a Jewish Israelite, born into the Roman occupation and oppression of his people and nation. Everything everyone expected of the Messiah was to overthrow Rome and establish Israel as a nation again. But Jesus couldn't have been more clear that this wasn't his mission. Nationalism played almost no role in Jesus' life, teachings, and purpose. On the idea of freedom and religious liberty, his most direct teachings basically say "Get ready for persecution, it will be an opportunity to shine." (Matthew 24) 

Why do we value our own security more than Jesus did? 

Why is national security an absolute value for us if it wasn't for Jesus? 

Why is America more important than the world? 


But the plight of the refugee - the call to compassion - has been part of God's way throughout the ages. 



Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)


When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)


"So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against those who... deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler. (Job, discussing his devotion to God) (Job 31:32)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:29-37)


If Jesus was an American today, what would he do? 

We don't know exactly. But we know that Jesus loved. He was willing to walk to his own execution in order to love us. People are begging to be let into our country, to be given permission to enter a nation know for its Christians. We have been given so much and been asked so little; will we answer?





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