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Refugees and Jesus

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  Kayla Zilch and her squad launched out of Atlanta last week right into the middle of the refugee crisis. Sleeping on the Serbian streets with her squad, she was awakened in the middle of the night by hundreds of Syrian refugees all around her. [read more here]   It’s one thing to…
By Seth Barnes
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Kayla Zilch and her squad launched out of Atlanta last week right into the middle of the refugee crisis. Sleeping on the Serbian streets with her squad, she was awakened in the middle of the night by hundreds of Syrian refugees all around her. [read more here]
 
It’s one thing to read in the news about the hundreds of thousands of refugees running from the ISIS-instigated horror. But how do you respond when they show up in your bedroom?
 
I posted a picture on FB of a ragtag group of refugees walking along the train tracks. The response from some of my Christian readers was laced with fear. One said, “Most of these so called refugees are military men infiltrating Europe. I believe we are witnessing the beginning stages of Armageddon.”
 
Really? That wouldn’t have been my first response. Jesus doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. So, that begs the question, how are we to respond to refugees? 
 
Here are three thoughts:
 
1. The Bible says “help them”
All through Scripture we see God asking his people to care for the dispossessed. God’s heart breaks for those who lack the basics of food, shelter and love.Isaiah 58 gives us a clear word: 
 
“Share your food with the hungry

…provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked…clothe them”

Jesus said that his ministry was to those who are “burdened and battered.” He said that his call was to set them free. He told us to “go and do likewise.” How is it that we as disciples have so secularized and politicized our understanding of his call that we equate it with a political party or a wielding of national power? 
 
God has compassion on those walking down the railroad tracks. We are his hands and feet – his means for demonstrating compassion to them. The people of Syria and Iraq are being killed. Isis has targeted them for martyrdom. Will the body of Christ rise up and care for them?
 
2. Be clear about your nationhood
OK, most of you reading this are from America. But chances are, a lot of what’s going on in Washington DC does not represent your belief system.
 
What should our belief system be and where should we give allegiance? 
 
Jesus said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16)
Paul told the Philippians, “For our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20)
Peter asks believers to consider ourselves “aliens and strangers.” (1 Pet. 2:11)
 
Perhaps some of us need to re-think where we get our sense of security and identity. 
 
3. We’re all refugees
Life on earth is hard. We are born in pain, entering the world screaming. And many of us leave the same way. We are constantly wounded, disappointed, and abandoned. We try to make homes that insulate us from pain and then most of us experience broken homes.
 
We’re all refugees. We’ve been cast out of the Garden and find ourselves east of Eden. We’re all beggars sharing with others where to find bread. And in light of our situation, the bread that we’ve found is very good news indeed. 
 
We are not an elite group trying to protect our good fortune; God calls us to identify with those whose misfortune is a present reality. 
 
About six years ago, God spoke to our Adventures staff and said, “Make room in your homes for my children – those you’ve called orphans are my sons and daughters. Like you, they are members of my family and they deserve a place at your tables and on your porches.”
 
Orphans are the ultimate refugees – fleeing from broken homes. God says that true religion does not involve sitting in a pew, but caring for his children who are refugees.
 
Where are you with all this? Where is your heart? Have you opened your home to the poor wanderer? Or do you often find yourself in self-preservation mode?
 
We who follow Jesus belong to a tribe that is called to live free and to share with others the joy of an abundant life in all of its implications. We are not called to huddle, but to show up with a blanket and a plate of food for those who are huddling against the cold of homelessness.
 
If we are free, let’s share the fruits of that freedom with a hungry world.

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