According to Methodist Minister and human rights activist Mike Slaughter we are living to see the greatest refugee crisis the world has ever known. He says, “Wars, conflict and persecution around the world have forced more people to flee and seek refuge elsewhere in recent years than has previously existed at any other time in recorded migration history. The U.N. reported in June that by the beginning of 2015 nearly 60 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced. One in every 122 human beings is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum on Planet Earth. This is simply incredible.” See Mike’s full article: Mike’s Article On Jesus Being A Refugee
These numbers are staggering. I am a student of history. I used to think that the migrations of the barbarians who eventually destroyed the Roman Empire were astounding, but when you look at these numbers there is no comparisons. One difference between the barbarian invasions, the massive people movements of Rome’s final years, and our current refugee crisis is that the barbarians came to conquer Rome, but our present refugees are fleeing for their lives. In order ignore this suffering, misery and want we have to give up our humanity. Be warned! If we give up humanity by closing the doors of compassion on these suffering peoples, who are fleeing for their lives, it will eventually come back to bite us as individuals and as a nation. There will be terrible consequences for all of us. Terrorism thrives where there is great poverty and want. But the most terrible consequence will be becoming a people of fear and indifference.
Jesus & The Refugee Crisis
It is clear from Matthew 2:13 that Jesus was a refugee. Mary and Joseph were told by the angel of the Lord to flee to Egypt to escape the violence and hatred of King Herod. Herod was searching for Jesus so he could kill him. I am so glad Egypt granted asylum to our Lord.
As I stated in my previous blog What Would Jesus Do About The Syrian Refugee Crisis it is clear that Judgment Day is not so much about the precise theological ideology we embraced cognitively, but whether or not we ministered to Jesus in practical ways when he came to us through people suffering on the margins of life (Matthew 25:31-46). One cannot be a follower of Jesus and ignore the implications of Jesus words when he says:
For I was hungry and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I WAS A STRANGER, AND YOU DIDN’T INVITE ME INTO YOUR HOME….
In the parable of the Ambitious Guest (Luke 14:7-14) Jesus expresses the importance of showing love, compassion and generosity to those who are marginalized and can never repay us. He promises a reward on Judgment Day to those who follow him in loving their neighbor in such sacrificial ways. He says
Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.
I am convinced that of all the great avatars and spiritual leaders of human history none can empathize more with the pain and suffering of humanity than Jesus. Just when I am tempted to embrace the politics of fear, polarization, violence and exclusion that permeate the political ideologies of the Right and Left in this country I am reminded that there is a Third Path. This Third Path of Jesus is to love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, treat other people the way you want to be treated and if you find enemies along the way do all you can to make them your friends.
Jesus came to show us a better way of being human and he backed it up with his life, death and resurrection. When our Lord rose from the dead he showed once and for all that the path of loving God and neighbor was superior to the path of human default which is desire (envy) rivalry, hostility, violence and scapegoating. He showed us a better way of being human.
What Can You Do To Be More Human?
The number of these brother refugees is growing and, in these past few days, thousands more have been forced to leave their homes in order to save their life. Millions of families, millions of them, refugees from many countries and different faiths, experience in their stories tragedies and wounds that will not likely be healed,” said Pope Francis. “Let us be their neighbors, share their fears and uncertainty about the future, and take concrete steps to reduce their suffering.
I am challenging each of you to not be indifferent but do ONE thing to help with the global refugee crisis. Mike Slaughter offers some practical ways you can help through an upcoming Christmas project in the Methodist Church. Read his blog for more information Jesus Was A Refugee. In my last blog What Would Jesus Do About The Syrian Refugee Crisis? I discussed Lynne Hybels’ article in the Washington Post. Her article is loaded with practical ways organizations and individuals can make a difference. If you decide to do something respond to my blog and let you me know what are going to do. Let’s start of revolution!
*Photo of Pope Francis by VINCENT PINTO/AFP/Getty Images