I am afraid to write what is hurting my heart this morning because it will likely bring comments and reactions that add more hurt.
My issue is my own lack of understanding of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I run the risk of judging hearts and coming out with me being superior and more godly … and that’s baloney. I am not those things. When I hate those I want to label “haters,” I become a hater.
My opinion is that many in my Christian ranks are reacting in fear and that is at the root. The old book I study speaks of fear quite often. As, I read it, I am not to live in fear of man when I am trusting in my God.
When immigrants to our area were Muslim, the fear was that they would bring personal harm. All were judged by the actions of the radical. I get that because, as a Christ follower, I am often tied to the parts of our Christian ranks that picket funerals and spew venom though I am nothing like them. They use the same book I love to somehow justify their actions.
Now, the asylum-seekers are here because they chose Portland, Maine as a welcoming place and they have heard positive things about our state. They are here from the Congo which is 90% Christian. But, rather than welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ, many Christians are again reacting in fear.
I see fear that they carry disease and even E-bola (with its 2-21 day incubation period) despite them having been travelling 5 months or more. I see fear that they are going to take our stuff and eat our food and take our housing and rob our resources. And then I read Acts 2:44-45 about the believers being together, sharing and even selling their stuff to help other believers.
The “my stuff” fear doesn’t fit my theology because I see myself more as a manager of resources God has provided. In my paradigm, all I am and all I have is God’s.
I’d like to propose that we separate people from policy. Punishing people because we disagree with policy is, in my opinion, in opposition to the scriptures we claim to hold dear. Continue to debate the government policy you dislike with all the passion and vigor you want, but love the people in front of you with the love of Jesus. I believe that’s our clear calling in Christ
The bible is a difficult book. Love our enemies (read Matthew 5 for fun). Take care of widows and orphans (James 1:27). Our book also has a lot of guidance about how we are to treat aliens and strangers. It is also clear on how we are to handle people who refuse to work when they are able. In my personal dealing with immigrants I have always found them willing and expecting to work.
What would you do if war and violence were killing all around you and threatening your family? Would you choose fight or flight? What if your fight was impossible to win? Would you fight knowing your children would certainly be killed as well or put into slavery? I’d choose the Sound of Music, Von Trapp family route. I would do all I could to try to find safety. If we stay, we die. If we flee, we maybe die.
My plea is simple … see the people. See the children. And though it is near impossible for us Americans to even imagine, try to imagine yourself in their shoes. Please don’t blame them or punish them for the policy that brought them here. The policy is not their fault.
They are people.
My Christian brothers and sisters, I beg you to spend some time in what we call the “Word of God” and test your attitudes and actions based on its teachings. Decide who the “neighbor” is that you are called to love. Search its pages for direction on how we are to respond to strangers and aliens who end up in our lands.
Debate policy, shape policy, vote policy changes and legislate policy but please, for the love of God, love people.
By Scott Linscott