Defend suffering strangers

“We don’t lock the doors to our house because we hate people outside. We lock them because we love the people inside.”

I have heard this a lot recently. To me, it seems that this idea contradicts what it means, at its core, to be a Christian. Recently I have been hearing this type of rhetoric from many of my friends. You can not claim to love your neighbor as yourself while simultaneously supporting policy that says some people are too much of a risk or some people are not worth helping. Jesus tells us to love others as ourselves and to care for the widows and orphans. These are pretty clear and simple commands. If you’ll notice, nowhere in the Bible do we read “Love those from your own country first, then help those in need as long as it doesn’t put you in danger.”

If you’ll allow me, I would like to say that the issue with the recent immigration executive order is not how it was implemented (even though there are many issues there), but rather the heart behind ban.

Recent events like this have left me burdened by the weight of what I’ve seen and heard. I’ve been wrestling with how best to respond when I read social media posts or hear people talking about injustices that are occurring every single day. I’ve seen the type of speech that perpetuates fear, hurt and discrimination. What is most difficult for me, however, is not the people who share insensitive, hurtful and often ignorant opinions. Rather, it is the people who seem to minimize, ignore, turn a blind eye or even blatantly accept these injustices.

It is true that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” If you are able to go to a safe home tonight, lay in bed, and go to sleep in peace, then you have incredible privilege that many, many others do not.

There have been a thousand opinion articles run, and we are all constantly subject to a barrage of opinions and ideas from all sides every day. I know that my opinion might not change your mind. However, I am just at a loss as to the best way to convince some of my neighbors to simply love someone because they are also created in the image of God. Their suffering could very easily be your own, if only your skin was a different color or if you were from a different geographical location on our earth.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe,”  Elie Wiesel said.

Now, I know that the political process is dirty and broken and often far from who Jesus is. It is for this reason that many people choose to simply not engage in the world around them.

The good news is this – with inexplicable mercy, God looked upon us as sinful children and decided to love us anyway. The implication of this love is that we can and should live in complete freedom of slavery to worry, fear, or control – our God is above every ruler, authority, and power.

You are a citizen of the wholly good Kingdom of Heaven before you are a citizen of the United States of America. Both are a gift. But your heart, as a believer, has been designed to long for heaven and to love others as yourself. Do not mix up where our satisfaction to this longing will come from. The world is still a place of brokenness and danger. Our response is not to close our doors and protect our own. Rather, it is to embrace those that are broken, hurting and that have suffered injustice. To love them, to serve them and to defend them against injustice.

We read in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Locking our doors to everyone outside does not demonstrate that. The spirit of power, love and a sound mind is seen in loving God fiercely, and defending the rights of everyone in the face of discrimination and injustice. This is because everyone is created in the image of God and that alone makes them worth loving and defending.