The debate on Syrian refugees is raging, but opposing Christians are asked to remember the words of the refugee Jesus Christ.
Evangelicals view the Bible as a prime source of guidance for every facet of life. It is however extremely difficult to apply the same in complex moral dilemmas. This is particularly true when one considers the hardship faced by refugees from Iraq and Syria post the Paris attacks. It is as much a moral question as a nationwide political debate.
This turn of events were a far cry months before when the body of a Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on Turkish shores. The three-year-old baby was drowned in the sea and found lying face down. The American public took to heart the images and offered homes to many Syrian children.
Things changed when Paris was attacked by terrorists November 13. Many U.S. governors (31 at last count) were quick to issue statements that Syrian refugees are not welcome to settle and live in their states. The statements were quickly shot down by many, including a few evangelicals who generally support conservative leaders.
— Heather (@hcfischer1) November 22, 2015
There is a good reason for this Christian dichotomy. Even a layman will understand that the trials of Jesus’ life bears an uncanny resemblance to the Syrian refugee crisis. Jesus, along with his parents, were refugees from the Middle East. The nativity scene portrays a Middle Eastern family searching for somewhere to be put up, only to be told that there were no spaces available. After Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary ran away to Egypt—they were refugees escaping the violence. There is a certain irony in the rejection of refugees just before celebrating Christmas. It will even be apparent to those who espouse a no-refugee policy even as they call themselves a part of the faithful.
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.” -Jesus Christ
Jesus himself mentions in a number of tracts that refugees should be welcomed. In the Last Judgment, Jesus declared that if his disciples help refugees, they are helping him. Christ has always universalized the love felt for the neighbor. Since the original transcript is Greek, and the word stranger in Greek is xenos, if we do not welcome the stranger, we are barring out Jesus himself.
A similar view has been echoed by Pope Francis, who reminded us that refugees are much more than statistics. Every number is a person and a child of God, with an inherent dignity. He said that service towards refugees must quench both spiritual and human needs.