Love Your Neighbor

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations. For six of these countries the ban extends to up to four months, and for Syria the ban is indefinite. As for the status of permanent residence, green card holders, and student visa holders? It’s a mess of contradictory statements coming out of the Trump administration. I’ve used my Facebook to wax about constitutionality and the U.S. responsibility as an imperial power. I’ve aided in the flurry of article posting. I’ve donated money to the International Refugee Assistance Project…and then I finally felt ready to write.

I’m not going to talk about how Jesus was a refugee (or a Middle Easterner, or a Democrat, or a socialist, or a capitalist, or a Republican, or a black man) because as far as I’m concerned it really doesn’t matter. Jesus’ voting block and his mortal identity are not what the debate is about for me. Whether he would have identified with Marxism or capitalism is actually irrelevant. I can shout that Jesus was not a white man all day, but that isn’t what makes his opinion worth noting, and it isn’t what gives his words power.

Why do Christians put stock in the Bible? Because we believe that it is the Word of God. We believe that it is divinely inspired.

Why do Christians put stock in Jesus? Because we believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah.

And what does God say about how we ought to treat people?

Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

Exodus 22:21, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:34, “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.”

Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse”

Mark 12:31, “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

A little over a week ago I wrote a post about the inauguration, and I quoted Joshua 24:15.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

In that post the issue at hand was praying for the new president out of obedience to God — so we might live at peace. In the same way, my conviction against a ban that forbids refugees in the name of National Security, comes from the same place — out of obedience. The call of Christ is to love — both friends and enemies — without consideration for the consequences to self. It’s a call to sacrificial love which can be the hardest kind (or at least it is for me). The call of Christ is a rejection of fear (1 John 4:18).

Who do you serve? If the answer is Christ then examine your heart. In the context of recent political events ask the elementary question What Would Jesus Do? How does Jesus see Muslim refugees? How does Jesus see Donald Trump? The answer is all throughout his Word; He sees them as worth dying for.

This isn’t a story of Jesus being a Middle Eastern refugee it’s a story of us (as children of God) representing him on earth. Embracing his grace and aspiring to look like him. Let’s be Christians before we’re patriots.

Let it begin with me.

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