Welcoming the Stranger Among You

As reported recently in Newsweek, there is a Pew Research study that is making its way around the internet, and it's causing a bit of a stir in Christian circles. 

In this survey, respondents were asked if the US has a responsibility to accept refugees.

The fascinating thing is that the group that seemed the most committed to mercy and love toward the stranger was made up of people who said they are religiously unaffiliated.  

If this surprises you, read on because here's what the report indicated:
Sixty-five percent of those who claimed no religious affiliation also said they felt the U.S. had a responsibility to care for those who are being displaced by violence or war.
Meanwhile, among self-identified, white evangelical Christians who responded to the study, only 25 percent said that they (to quote the article):
"...felt a responsibility to help people who have been forced to leave their country due to horrifying circumstances."
According to this study, white evangelicals were the least likely of all groups surveyed to feel responsible for the very same people scripture says in Deuteronomy 10:18-19 that God loves:
"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt."
Or to heed the warnings of Exodus 23:9: 
"Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners because you were foreigners in Egypt."
These are only a few of the passages we find in Scripture that exhort God's people to welcome refugees as family, not as a threat.  If you want to do your own study check out:  Matthew 25:25-36, Job 31:32, Exodus 12:49 and Deuteronomy 27:19. 

This is a problem of epic proportions. 

The fact that people who don't want to have anything to do with religion are actually more closely following the exhortations of Scripture than those who lift it up as authoritative to them.... that should bring all of us who claim to follow Jesus to our knees in repentance.

It's time for us to grow up and leave the politics and theology of fear and tribalism in the past.  It's time for us to actually become more like the Jesus we say is Lord. 

I recently read this fantastic quote from Maria Goff the other day.  She wrote:
Just because you know the words isn't a good enough reason to keep playing songs you've outgrown in your life.
We need some new songs to sing.  We need to become more attentive to the words of Scripture that disrupt our world view and turn our paradigms upside-down---not just the words that seem to bolster our comfort and keep us stuck in the past.  

And we need to stop being so afraid.  Hear these words from St. Terese de Avila, and let them be your prayer today and every day.  

Let nothing trouble you;
Let nothing scare you,
All is fleeting,
God alone is unchanging.
Everything obtains.
Who possesses God,
Nothing wants.
God alone suffices. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 

At my church, we take this very seriously.  We partner with great organizations who are working to welcome refugees.  We support missions and ministries that reach out to the marginalized and poor.  We do our part to provide resources to our homeless neighbors and to end the cycle of poverty through education and family support.  If you want to find out more about what we do, and how our mission to Love God and Love Everybody is at the heart of it all, click here: http://www.shpc.org/mission/


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