Jesus Was A Refugee

OneOldcop has a bit of a problem when it comes to mixing politics and religion. Part of the problem is the fact Christianity and politics were very closely aligned centuries ago, and the relationship was not one of which a believer could be proud.  Another part of the problem is some Christians seem to have forgotten many of those who colonized the new world were fleeing a world in which religion and politics were bedfellows. Still another part of the problem is that people who clearly consider Christianity to be based on myth and legend attempt to use Christian principles or beliefs to intimidate believers or to sway the way believers think about different issues.

The problem today is the way some non-Christians, and Christians as it turns out, are again misusing Jesus to push a point. In case the title of this piece is not enough of a hint, the issue of interest here is propaganda such as the “Jesus Was a Refugee” bumper sticker and the memes claiming Jesus would not be allowed to enter the country today because he was from the Middle East.

For the record, given the modern understanding of the word, Jesus was a refugee. He and his family left their homeland and traveled to Egypt to escape the plans of an evil king.  That is where the similarity between Jesus and the flood of refugees around the world stops. Trying to equate Jesus to most modern day refugees makes less sense than comparing Elvis and Britney Spears.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were not part of a mass exodus caused by indiscriminate destruction of entire towns. They did not leave with litle hope of a future. In fact, the Bible says they left at the direction of an angel. Also, they were not dependent on the government of Egypt or another government for survival. In short they were nothing like the tens of thousands of people fleeing Syria and other middle eastern countries.

It is almost certain some of the people displaying the bumper sticker, posting memes or advocating that comparison are well intentioned. Well intentioned or not, using the name of Jesus in an attempt to guilt, shame or condemn others for opposing the resettlement of thousands of refugees in the United States is inappropriate.  It is also a misunderstanding of a Christian’s duty in this situation.

Resettlement of refugees from anywhere is not a religious issue. It is a political issue. In this case, it is also a political agenda. An agenda that may be well intentioned, but may well destroy the United States as it is destroying much of Europe at the moment.

Yes, Christians are supposed to love their neighbors. Yes, Christians are supposed to show kindness, even to their enemies. Nowhere however does the Bible say Christians are supposed to allow hordes of people to invade their country, destroy their economy, and make them feel unsafe in their own homes.

Some will see that last paragraph as the words of a hater. While nothing could be farther from the truth, it is beyond the control of this writer to do anything about another’s biases or ignorance. Still, the paragraph may contain a bit of hyperbole to make a point.

Again, this is not a Christian issue. It is a political, secular issue. If the government in its infinite wisdom decides that allowing tens of thousands of immigrants into the United States in spite of the risk is the proper thing to do, it becomes an issue for all of us, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist. At the moment however, the issue is not any threat the refugees may pose, politically, economically or criminally. At the moment, the issue is the obligation the government will be placing upon its citizens, especially Christians.

Once these people are admitted, it is our duty to treat them equitably and with respect. It is our duty to help them in any way we can. In the case of Christians, this is where the commandment to love one’s neighbor comes into play.

Loving your neighbor does not mean applauding when the government takes your tax money to pay for the resettlement and needs of these refugees. Loving your neighbor does not mean feeling all prideful that you displayed a bumper sticker or used the name of Jesus attempting to make someone feel guilty.

Loving your neighbor means reaching out to those in need. Loving your neighbor means you personally have a responsibility toward these refugees. It will be interesting to see how many “Jesus was a Refugee” folks line up to personally help a Syrian family resettle in a local neighborhood. Certainly, some will, but the reality is most will not. It is just easier to let the government, and someone else’s money, take care of it.

© – 2017

About S. Eric Jackson

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