I’m going to paraphrase Jesus a little here.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “There was a refugee with his family running away from a dangerous situation in a neighboring country. He ran with his family to the country that proudly displayed a great monument of liberty with the following cast within it:”
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“So he ran to this country of liberty in hopes of saving his family and was detained at the border.”
“While he was detained there a pastor walked by the detention center, but closed his eyes and hummed out loud so as not to see or hear anything from the center. The pastor blamed the other side of the political landscape and walked by, and the man and his family were left in the detention center.”
“Then a once great Evangelical leader toured the facility were he was detained. The Evangelical leader thought to himself and sent to his newsletter subscribers “These people are different from us and will destroy our culture. They probably have lots of criminals. They will take us down so we can’t help them.” Then the once great Evangelical leader walked by and the man and his family were left in the detention center. “
“Then a person with no power and no prestige saw the man and his family in the detention center. She went up to him and said “I’ll get beds for you and your family. I’ll help you make a new life that is safe from the danger that you have faced. I know you want to be able to work and fend for yourself so I will help you do that. You might not be able to stay here because our immigration system has been messed up for awhile now, but I will make sure that the enforcement of our law doesn’t put you in jail or use your children as leverage against you merely for you trying to apply for refugee status.” Then she contacted her representatives, and gave to charities that would help, took action herself, and remembered the man and his family”
And Jesus said to the man “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man detained at the border?”
The man seeking to justify himself replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Obviously Jesus didn’t tell the parable of the Good Samaritan this way – If He had told this parable about immigration the “Samaritan”, or in my case the woman with no power or prestige, would have been someone that Americans seemto despise, rather than just someone without power or prestige. For example, in some circles, someone from Iran. Also Jesus would have told the story with much braver actions by our heroine. I can be whimpy in my writing. Jesus isn’t.
Anyhow the reason I paraphrased the story above is because I hear and read many people who profess Christ as Lord responding to immigrants and refugees seeking asylum by worrying about their own status. What will the immigrants and refugees do to “our” country and “our” culture? What will immigrants and refugees do to “our” resources? What will they do to our crime rate, etc. etc? After all we think we are the subjects of our own story and therefore why wouldn’t we be concerned about how immigration affects us.
But if you profess Jesus as Lord then you are saying that ultimately we are not the subjects of our own lives. If we profess that Jesus is Lord then we are saying that the story of our lives is actually all about God. HE IS THE SUBJECT, we are merely objects that point to His greatness, mercy, and love within our stories. Therefore, the way we respond to events HAS TO BE about what best tells the story of God as the Hero of the story. The way we treat refugees and immigrants (two very different groups) speaks of the God we proclaim to be King. We can disagree (and probably should) on how to handle things politically and how to change the system (just talk to an immigration attorney and you will hear that the system has needed to be changed for a long time, regardless of what party is in control, if you need one follow my friend and college roommate Scott Hicks, he’s wonderful), but we can’t allow those political disagreements to lead us to treat the individuals who are refugees and immigrants in a manner that doesn’t glorify God because the story of our lives is about Him, not us, not our country. If you don’t profess Jesus as your Lord this doesn’t apply to you, but for those of us who do we gave up the right to focus on how something affects us.
He is the Subject of the story. Our part is to be examples of how wonderful and gracious He is. That’s why we have to be good neighbors, our actions reflects upon the Subject of the story. So go and do likewise.