Inviting Jesus In

“One day our neighbor’s five-year-old daughter was kidnapped and held for ransom. The family was later told that the intended victim was our son [but the little girl was easier to grab]. The next day we left everything behind and fled.”

%22i-was-a-stranger-and-you-invited-me-in-%22jesusWe heard this story Sunday night as Les and I had dinner with a couple who left the violence of Iraq and eventually arrived in the U.S. in 2008. They had had a comfortable life in pre-U.S.-invasion Iraq. But when life threatened the safety of their children, they gave it up in an instant. As we talked about their jobs here in America versus what they did in Iraq, the husband kept saying, “It is what it is.” His wife explained, “You do what you need to do for your children.”

That’s what millions of refugees are saying right now. Yes, it’s dangerous to attempt a crossing in a small boat from Libya to Italy, but life at home is more dangerous still. I need to try to save my children.

Much is left behind in pursuit of a better life (or a life at all) for their kids—their national identity, the ease of using their mother tongue, the familiarity of their neighborhoods, the value of their job training and experience. (One local refugee was an architect at home; here he changes lightbulbs as a maintenance man at a hotel he may once have designed.)

So it saddens and angers me when I read posts like that of Donald Trump, Jr.:


Refugees fleeing violence, oppression, poverty or war are not Skittles. Refugees are people, people who matter to God. They are the ones concerning whom Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” and the converse: “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Are you willing to turn Jesus away?

Many of the people who tell us we cannot allow any Syrian or Muslim or Middle Eastern or African refugees into the country because there is the remote possibility of someone violent getting through are the same people who tell “Black Lives Matter” protesters not to judge all cops by the few who are racist or violent. You can’t have it both ways. Either we throw out the baby with the bathwater or we don’t. If we determine how to treat the many by the few aberrations, we would refuse to have any police officers. We also would need to exterminate all white teen males who come from upper middle class or affluent homes because of the few who’ve committed school massacres. I haven’t heard anyone calling for a massive tony teen roundup.

And if you respond to “Black Lives Matter” by insisting “All Lives Matter,” doesn’t that automatically include Syrian refugees? They matter to God. And so they should matter to us. Listen to what God told the Israelites in Leviticus ‭19:33-34:

“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”

%22i-was-a-stranger-and-you-invited-me-in-%22jesusWhat are your thoughts and attitudes toward the stranger? How are you reaching out to the refugees in your community? How are you using your voice and your vote to care for the stranger?

Are you willing to trust God with your safety and so choose to welcome the very ones he says are actually a way to welcome him?

Are you inviting Jesus in? 


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