Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christianity and the Syrian Refugee Crisis: "I was A Stranger and You Welcomed Me"

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Dear Reader,

As a preface, this blog is not only a BookBlog. It is everything I want it to be. I will have an Author interview up next week (it will be sooo exciting!), but as for this week, i'll be talking social justice and Christianity. 

Joseph and the pregnant Mary were not refugees trudging through the land to get to Bethlehem. (They eventually ran away due to Herod wanting to kill Jesus, but that is after the "Christmas" story.) But, prior to Jesus' birth, when they were heading to Bethlehem, they were not in fear for their lives; they were not running away from bombs being pelted upon their homes; they were not running away from a food shortage so severe that they had to ask for for credit just to feed their children bread; they were not so desperate that they had to bring their children across the sea just for  the tug of the ocean to drag their young children and loved ones into the dark and churning watery depths. That was not the case. 

The Bible states:
"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child." 
Luke 2:1-5, English Standard Version (ESV)

For Mary and Joseph, going to Bethlehem was simply a matter of a census. They were not refugees. Some people are calling this comparison "liberal propaganda." I personally think that such a term is laughable (as an independent [haha, a Christian who isn't a republican! I must be a Unicorn. Not. There are a LOT of us] I don't really side with political parties, but the term is still ridiculous in this situation).Instead of brushing aside the inaccuracies that are being made between the Syrian refugee crisis to scripture, we should be finding what the relationships are. It has really been on my heart that this comparison is something that should be looked at. I initially wanted to be all brimstone and fire, and be like "YEAH! Mary and Joseph were refugees! Be nicer, fellow Jesus followers," but I also realized that this was not the case. 

Dear people who are reading this, the Bible tells us plainly and simply what we need to do in these matters. This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It reminds me of what I need to be doing for others and WHY I need to do things for others. That verse is Matthew 25: 34-4, which states:

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’"

To me, this is what showing Christian love is about. Opening our arms to people who want: to feed bread to their children;  to save our world with some crazy, awesome science; to people who want to escape a reoccurring nightmare.  Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us that love is "kind" and that it "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Can we not "endure" the influx of people who need somewhere safe? Can we not be kind enough to allow Muslim women to continue to wear their hijab without feeling like they are in fear for their life (I heard about this on NPR while on my way to work. I wish I could share a link to the podcast)? But....but... they're Muslims. Some of them are, some of them are not. But, despite their religious affiliation, do I want to help bring all people to the saving knowledge if Jesus Christ? Goodness, yes! I am still trying to make my own life align with scripture (i'm not perfect), but we can not do that if these refugees are killed by hunger, bombs, and people who want to kill them.  Can we not look at scripture and think of these refugees as strangers who we must welcome as God would want?  Do you know what God will do if we turn our back on people?

Matthew 25: 41-46 states:
"Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I have no intentions of scaring you. I have no intentions of making you run for the metaphorical hills, which is actually the "exit out of this blog" option. What I want to show you is that Christians have a duty to help others. How can we show people the God in us when we are telling them we hate them and that we don't want them here? What did this person ever do to you? Or this person. Or this person. Or this person. Or this person.  Are any of these people undeserving of the love of Christ that was shown (and is still shown) to us ? I can only imagine the horror that our world will become if people turn their backs on people in need. Do you, like the people of the Bethlehem, not have room for another person in your town?

Much Peace, Love, and Blessings,

p.s. You may also like to read 3 facts about the Syrian refugee crisis that some Christians overlook, written by Jonahen Merritt

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