I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING I haven’t found yet.
I asked my Bible study group for it on Sunday. No luck there.
My question was about the six million Middle Eastern refugees, and the fact that more than half of the people in this country—Christians included—don’t want any of them here. Not even one of them.
The last poll I read, in November, put the number at 53% against letting the refugees in, even if the refugees are vetted. Folks say they don’t trust the vetting process.
Here’s the question no one has yet answered for me.
What’s the Christian principle at work that says it’s okay to tell them “No, you are not welcome here”?
The topic of our Bible study session on Sunday was “Fear: When we turn tail and run.”
I knew that the pastor was going to be preaching on the topic of a Christian response to Islamic extremism. So I figured, why not talk about our fear of rescuing and welcoming even one soul out of six million.
I set up the question with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
I told the class that the parable began with a man asking Jesus, “What must I do to have eternal life?” (Luke 10:25).
Jesus said we needed to love God and love our neighbor as ourself.
The follow-up question: Who should we consider our neighbor? Jews at the time were debating that. Some rabbis said Jews had to look out only for fellow Jews – only Jews were their neighbors. Other rabbis said anyone could be our neighbor because God reigns over everyone. After all, in the time of the prophet Jonah, God saved the people of Nineveh, a city on the outskirts of what is now Mosul, Iraq.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, a Jewish man is mugged and left for dead along the barren stretch of badlands between Jericho and Jerusalem. Jesus said two religious people walked right past him: a priest and a Levite, who was a priest’s assistant. In our day, that would amount to the pastor and the music director walking past a fellow church member about to die.
In fairness to the religious guys, maybe they were afraid the muggers were still nearby and might hurt them.
In the parable, the only person to stop and help this Jew was a Samaritan. This compassionate humanitarian who stopped was someone outside the religious club. It might amount to someone today like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bono, or Bill Gates.
I told my Bible study group, “If Jesus says that to inherit eternal life we must love our neighbor as ourselves, and if he defines what it means to love our neighbor that way by telling us a story about two religious people who failed the test and did not help someone they could have helped perhaps because they were afraid for their lives, some wonder how Christians can possibly justify turning their back on six million refugees, refusing to welcome even one.”
I live in the state of Kansas. Our governor, Sam Brownback, issued an executive order requiring state employees not to help the refugees:
“…no department, commission, board or agency of the government of the State of Kansas shall aid, cooperate with, or assist in any way the relocation of refugees….”
Some Christian friends of mine are glad he did that.
When I asked the group what Christian principle is at work allowing us to get away with something like that, I got reasonable answers that made perfect sense:
- You are asking the wrong question. You should be asking…
- This is a Christian country. And those people are trying to come in here and turn us into a Muslim country.
- We have a right to survive. If we can’t survive as a nation how can we help anyone?
- I’m afraid of what will happen if they come here.
I cover the Bible beat. Maybe I’m missing something, but for the life of me I can find nothing Christian about any of those answers.
I understand the survival instinct, the desire not to get hurt, and the wish to keep our right to worship as Christians.
But Jesus put a lot of stock in loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. He values it as much as we value eternal life.
So when we see our neighbor starving in refugee camps, and then we walk away from them, what Christian principle puts the get up in our go?
If anyone out there has the answer, I would like to hear it.
For more about loving others
- Christians not afraid of getting blown to kingdom come
- WWJD with this neighbor
- Friends in need with friends in deed
- Christians doing nothing for nobody