Over the past few weeks, the picture of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up on a beach has gone viral bringing the Syrian Refugee Crisis to the front of the American consciousness. While many have responded with a desire to help and with calls for our government to allow more refugees into the US, many Christians have responded by buying into the fear and hysteria propagated by the far right-wing isolationists who try to convince us that we need to keep our doors closed to refugees this region of the world.
It seems like every time I look at social media I see another tweet or Facebook post bashing Muslims. I’ve seen posts about how Muslims have destroyed European culture, how they are going to come here and rape and murder our women and children, and how this is all part of a grand Islamist plot to infiltrate our and take over our country. I have read numerous calls to keep “these people” out of our country and even why we should hate them. The problem is that many of the people I see posting this stuff claim to be Christians. The biggest problem I have with these posts is that they are based entirely on fear, yet more than 100 times in the Bible my God tells me “Do not be afraid!”
I’ll admit that it is difficult to argue that letting refugees in is the politically expedient thing to do, It’s not, its costly, but it is the right thing to do. If we think that everyone in our country should be just like us then we should close the borders. If our highest values are safety and security, then we should build a wall to keep them out, but if we want to be like Jesus then those simply are not options. Is it possible, or even likely that some terrorists will try to take advantage of this crisis and our generosity for some nefarious purposes? absolutely. I am not naive about the political reality of the world in which we live, there are people out there who want to do us harm and will use any opportunity that presents itself to do so. But the truth is they are the minority and the vast majority of Syrian Refugees are the victims of these very same people.
But, even if everything that we read or hear about concerning the dangers of letting Muslim refugees into our country were true. Even if it means the end of western civilization and the inevitable Islamization of North America and the widespread implementation of Sharia law, even if welcoming desperate war-torn refugees from Syria means the certain death of everything we hold dear, we, as followers of Jesus, do not have the option of turning our back on the millions of innocent victims in this crisis. (Matthew 25: 31-46)
Evil is not overcome by dropping bombs, building walls or erecting barriers. It is not overcome by keeping those people out and by associating only with people who think like us, act like us and look like us. Evil is only overcome by costly, self-sacrificial love. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, then he modeled it for us when he went to the cross and said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He was not simply talking about his Roman executors, but about me and you. Romans 5 tells us that while we were his enemies, Christ died for us. The way of Jesus is not the easy way, but it is the right way and it begins with love not hate.
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.’
– Matthew 25:35-40