By: Carlos A. Rodriguez
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 25, 2018
Did you know that Jesus was an asylum seeker? His parents escaped the brutality of Herod and lived in Egypt for years. Yes, as a migrant family.
Sincerely, The Bible
We can throw tear gas at Jesús, José and Maria… or we can welcome them.
It is honestly as simple as that. And then, it isn’t.
In Luke 10, a lawyer (AKA a Bible expert) stood up and tested Jesus.
He said to him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” or in other words, “What can I do to go to heaven?”
In full-Jesus-style, he replies to his question with two question,
1. “What is written in the law?” (Tell me what you know.)
2. “How do you read it?” (Tell me how you interpret it.)
The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind (Deuteronomy 6:5) and your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).”
So the Word of God said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself (not a great idea) asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” or in other words, “Who shall I stand with? And where do I draw the line?”
Jesus replied with a parable.
* A story that was intended (in love) to offend the mind in order to reveal the heart.
Don’t skip it.
“A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’
Then Jesus asked the lawyer, ‘Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?’
He replied, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Yes Carlos, “Go and do likewise.”
This parable would have been challenging enough for the Bible-expert if the Samaritan was the one beaten up on the side of the road and all Jesus was asking him to do was help. However, he used that example not just to say, be kind to your despised neighbor, but to say, learn from them! As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said while preaching on this, “The Priest and the Levite asked themselves, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ The Good Samaritan reversed the question, ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
Can we ask this again, “What will happen to the undocumented worker from Central American if we don’t stop to help them? What will happen to the hordes of refugees in the Middle East if we don’t stop to help them? What will happen to the family in the image above if we don’t stop to help them? And even more than that, we need to ask, “How can we relate to them so we can learn from them?”
This is humility personified.
And this… is the invitation of Christ.
I believe it to be a good thing to cherish the land God blessed us with. We need to appreciate our culture, learn our history and respect our people.
But Jesus could care less about our patriotism.
The whole point of the gospel was to included everyone. It’s the original promise to Abraham, “Through you all peoples on earth will be blessed.” That includes Mexican and Iranians, the Muslim and the French, and even us Puerto Ricans!
Nationalism is the great deception that needs to be confronted as a great deception.Sure, it works for history books and competitive Olympics. But it does not work for making disciples of all nations. And it does not fit the picture of Revelation, “And he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth– to every nation, tribe, language and people.”
We can’t be the bride of Christ and concubines of Caesar. We can’t choose the empires of this world and the ways of his Kingdom. We can’t prioritize a super-power over God’s humility and fire. As Stanley Hauerwas wrote, “The church is constituted as a new people who have been gathered from the nations to remind the world that we are in fact one people.”
Plus, I don’t want to miss the chance of engaging with Jesus in the flesh: “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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:34-36
So I’m sticking with God on this one. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and lovesthe foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:18 Ultimately, I so think that my frustration is self-inflicted. I want this nation to behave like a Christian (at least my incomplete version of what a Christian looks like). But America is not the body of Christ.
You and I. And let me put the emphasis on the “I”. We are believers of a way that is above patriotism, comfort and human nature. Our distinctive is compassion; it’s beauty and self-sacrifice… It is the cross and the resurrection. And whatever I want to see around me, I need to stop telling you to do it. So I’m done telling others that they need to love their enemies. I’m finished with imposing my ethics and theology on my sisters and brothers. I’m sick of the sound of my own self-righteousness.
And I will give my time and space to helping refugees and those seeking asylum. It’s time to make my life the loudest written article.
Welcome Asylum Seekers.
Carlos Rodriguez is the founder and director of HappySonship.com He is also a published author. His latest book is Drop the Stones