“The first appearance of the Bible command to love your neighbor as yourself is in the specific context of showing compassion to refugees/immigrants.”
Brian Zahnd, Beauty Will Save the World.
Pope Francis is pleading with every religious community in Europe to take in refugee families fleeing from the war-torn Middle East; a direct request to assist with the region’s advancing migrant crisis.
I dare to say that this a prophetic call for all evangelical, protestant and charismatic Christians to follow the ways of Jesus.He said, “In front of the tragedy of the tens of thousands of refugees escaping death by war or hunger, on the path towards the hope of life, the Gospel calls us, asks us to be ‘neighbors’ of the smallest and most abandoned.”
So while we do politics with this conversation, the Pope is living out the Golden Rule.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Jesus
Three Syrian refugee families flew to the Vatican with Pope Francis Saturday following the pontiff’s brief but provocative visit to a Greek island at the center of the European migrant crisis.”
“The pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children,” the Vatican said in a statement after the pope’s plane took off from Lesbos, Greece.
His trip to Lesbos was aimed at thanking the Greek people for welcoming refugees and to meet with migrants as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport migrants back to Turkey.
“These are all people who were already in camps in Lesbos before the agreement between the European Union and Turkey,” the Vatican’s statement added.
The Vatican is already hosting two refugee families, so the gesture is not unprecedented.
And this is such a great (Godly) idea. And I love that the pope started with offering his own space. An invitation for the church to actually manifest the Kingdom of God. And the greatest add-on to this initiative is that every church can guarantee the presence of Jesus on the inside:
“…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Jesus
Well, a lot.
It only takes helping the one. And in the process we host, bless, feed, and care for Jesus himself.
The difference between more children being found dead on the beach as oppose to being alive in a home, might just depend on how the church responds to this. Buildings, lights, blogs and worship albums are all valuable. But Jesus cares way more about people. And maybe the time has come for the pendulum to swing hard towards a Gospel that is actually good news to the poor, not just good news to a few.
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. – Jesus in Matthew 25
“I wondered if there were other restless people asking the question with me: What if Jesus meant the stuff he said?.” – Shane Claiborne in Irresistible Revolution.
We could continue to do church as is, or we can be the church that God dreamed of.
Don’t wait. Invite a migrant family from your community to your home. Help out in shelter. Visit the sick, the prisoner, the hurting.
You might be the only Jesus they ever get to me. And they might just be the Jesus you’ve been waiting to encounter.
Pope Francis is right on this. A lot of other voices in the media are not. This is not a question of politics or theology, this is simple Christianity. And Christ Jesus is the ultimate example.
*Here are 5 others verse to help shape our view of refugees and immigration:
1. “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19
2. “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Lev. 19:34
3. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
4. Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
5. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last. Luke 13:29
* Read More: Dear Christian, Jesus Was A Refugee.