What would Jesus do? – Erin Owens

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I approach this topic with great humility and honestly, fear and trepidation. Yet as I wrestled with what to say, or if I should say anything at all I decided I could not be silent. I write this not as a commentary on politics, but rather as a call for Christians to honestly look at Scripture and see what it says about refugees. Please read the entire article, and know my heart of love for all people.

As a follower of Jesus, my allegiance is first and foremost to the Kingdom of God; but the reality is that I have allegiances elsewhere – to my country, state, and my family. What happens when these allegiances are at odds? I find that has occurred recently with actions and statements about immigrants and refugees. Please understand that I know this is a difficult, tempestuous topic and I am probably a fool for writing about it, but my conscience won’t let me stay silent. Given the heated nature of the subject I want to make a few things clear:

  1. I love the person that disagrees with me just as much as I love the refugees because they too are made in the image of God.
  2. I am not talking about letting “just anyone” in and and I am not necessarily “anti” Trump, I am pro refugee.
  3. When crafting arguments people often proof text Scripture and take it out of context. This is far from my goal. I seek to look at the general flow of Scripture and verses within their context.

So what does Scripture say?

Scripture begins in Genesis with humanity being made in the very image of God. Fear can never cause us to forget the fact that every single human is made in the very image of God.

The Bible proceeds from the end of Genesis into Exodus with God’s people being refugees. They were refugees in Egypt and then fleeing from the Egyptians! Yes, other countries did not have to let the Israelite’s in, but God heard their cries and delivered them. They were forced to leave their home country and go into a foreign land.

The experience of the Exodus shaped the foundation of the relationship between God and the Israelites. When God is giving the law to the Israelites in Leviticus, chapter 19:33-34 states, “ 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. I am the Lord your God.” (NIV). Please note, I am aware we do not live by every aspect of the law. There are different types of law: ceremonial, civil and moral. We live by the moral law of the Old Testament, which includes the repeated call to love your neighbor as yourself, which we will see again in the New Testament.

At the risk of writing a book, there are many aspects of the Old Testament which could be noted here but I think it is imperative to pick back up in the New Testament where Jesus repeats the theme of neighbor. Luke 10:25-37 cites Jesus commending an expert in the law for summing up the law like this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, NIV). Jesus states that these are the first and second greatest commandments in Mark 12:28-31. In the story of the good Samaritan, the one who is credited as being the neighbor was the Samaritan – the one considered a foreigner, hated by all Jews. THE ENEMY. The call to love your neighbor is repeated in Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39 and the aforementioned Leviticus passage. A theme repeated this many times must not be taken lightly.

Yet, the Biblical narrative does not end there. Luke 6 is a sermon of blessings and woes in which Jesus calls for radical things. Verses 27-29 say “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Later, verse 31 reads “DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO TO YOU.” Even IF the Muslim was our enemy, which I do not believe all Muslims are, our command is to love them. With these verses in mind, I think the question is clear.

IF I WERE THE REFUGEE WHAT WOULD I WANT OTHERS TO DO FOR ME?

I hope they would take me in.

I perceive that many are supporting the executive order out of fear. Unfortunately, fear is the opposite of love and 1 John 4:18 tells us that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (NIV). The commands of Jesus do not change. The Jesus who calls us to turn the other cheek, the one who stopped for “nobodies” and the one who saved a wretch like me is the one calling the Church to stand for justice. Yes, we may (will?) be persecuted, yes we may (will??) suffer. Jesus told us to expect it. But I cannot sit by while people made in the image of God are suffering and do nothing.

I remember years ago learning of the genocide in Rwanda. I sat, appalled, as my teacher told me that “rivers ran red with the blood of the innocent while people ate their warm dinners and did nothing.” I recall thinking that when injustice happens in my generation, I will not sit by and do nothing. The time has come. I cannot and will not eat my dinner while rivers run red with the blood of the innocent. Will you join me?

“There is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt then up in heaven.”

            -“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” Frederick Faber