The freedom to vote this month brought to mind the many incredible opportunities we have in America, especially with the backdrop of the LACK of these freedoms in places Indigenous Ministries has a presence. From freedom to worship, to express religious opinions (even if on Facebook), to carrying a gun or a Bible, America is still the greatest nation on the earth. Even with her many flaws, the truth is that refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants by the millions still look to our shores as the best sight they could ever lay eyes on.
Understandably, many feel confusion on the subject of refugees and asylum seekers and many Christians struggle to respond with a Christ-like balance to what some describe as an “invasion.” What should our response be? Regardless of opinions, Scripture points us to Jesus’ radical life.
The pharisee asking the question in the box, left, asked for the one greatest commandment. He felt safe in the answer he already knew. But he didn’t expect Jesus to insert personal responsibility into his answer. But Jesus didn’t even use pain as the standard, as the Law indicated, but he used love. He spoke of a very practical yet selfless love.
Our love for God defines how we treat ourselves and our neighbors. The way we would want our families to be treated if they were thrust into refugee or asylum seeker status should be part of what defines our own values and actions. When we put ourselves in that other person’s shoes (or in a small wooden boat full of desperate refugees floating away from violence in Libya), God increases our love and faith to take even the smallest actions to enact that love to others.
We aren’t called to love the whole world, God claimed that job in John 3:16, but we are called to love those in our path – be that literally next door, in town or across the seas. Good news: His box is big enough to deal with our inadequacies, prejudices and past failures.
According to Jesus, love is our standard. A love that doesn’t deny ourselves or our neighbors, a love that takes actions springing from our values and convictions.
This love is the change-agent that crosses all boundaries and barriers. It’s not guilt-based, but grace-based and let’s face it, loving God, ourselves and other people can be downright hard, and messy. Maybe that’s because it works.