Rejecting Refugees, Rejecting Christ | Sojourners

Rejecting Refugees, Rejecting Christ

Syrian refugees arrive in Lesvos, Greece in October.
Syrian refugees arrive in Lesvos, Greece in October. Anjo Kan /

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ — Matthew 25: 34-40

Although there might be many political, financial, and logistical reasons for citizens to reject the influx of global refugees, there are no theological ones. It may be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and extremely hard, but Jesus wants us to care for these people — the poor, homeless, sick, persecuted, downtrodden, and oppressed.

These people: individuals deeply loved by God and created in God’s Divine image.

If Christians refuse to accept and help refugees, we are ignoring, misinterpreting, and even blatantly rejecting Jesus’s teachings and various texts throughout the Bible (Jeremiah 22:3-5Zechariah 7:8-10Isaiah 16:4Matt. 25:34-40Heb. 13:1-2; James 2:5).

Whether you like it or not, Christians are called to help the world’s most abused, hurt, helpless, exploited, and destitute.

If you’re a follower of Christ passionate about social justice, of if you attend a church that claims to be enthusiastic about global missions, or if you’re part of a Christian organization that facilitates ministry, you’ve been handed a golden opportunity — the ability to minister to millions of people in desperate need.

This is a chance to be radically countercultural — to glorify Christ through selfless sacrifice, hospitality, and love. Being a Christ-follower isn’t easy, and it will require hard work, but it’s worth it.

But Satan wants to divide humanity — to instill fear, hatred, and distrust. So he’ll attempt to demonize the innocent and falsely accuse them of being violent, evil, and dangerous. We’ll be provided with an infinite — sometimes even logical-sounding — amount of excuses to do nothing, to protect ourselves, and to withhold the love of Christ.

But imagine if Jesus limited his ministry based upon the conditions of comfort and security:

There would be no traveling through Samaria — too hazardous. No interacting with foreigners — too dangerous. No helping strangers — too risky. No healing the sick — too unsafe. No attracting crowds — too insecure. No performing miracles — too perilous. No public speaking — too unprotected. No giving to the poor — too wasteful. No interacting with outcasts — too socially unacceptable. No disciples — too untrustworthy. No generosity — too wasteful. No grace — too weak. No forgiveness — too soft. No death on the cross — too painful (to say the least).

If Jesus used the same stipulations for love that we do, the gospel never would have existed, because almost every single experience Jesus put himself in required risk, sacrifice, and vulnerability. And instead of being fueled by fear, Jesus was fueled by hope.

Jesus wants us to have a similar mentality and calls us to bravely embrace a similar vulnerability. Christianity isn’t meant to be a religion of passivity and inaction, where we cynically seek out worst-case scenarios or see an obvious need right in front of us and do nothing. Instead, God wants us to follow God’s example, even if it means giving things up — possibly even our own lives.

The Christian solution to the refugee problem isn’t going to be the easiest, or most efficient, or most plausible, or most popular — but it should be the most loving.

By rejecting refugees, we are rejecting Christ, and we’re condemning millions of people — deeply loved creations of God — to more misery.

It may cost us wealth, comfort, time, energy, and even our sense of well-being, but this is what following Jesus means: to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love refugees.

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