We are commanded to love our neighbors, but what if people view them as an enemy...should we love them too?
There was recently a dispute about whether or not the United States of America should let refugees from the western part of the world cross the border. People were concerned with the possibility of letting terrorists in our country. It appeared as if we were closing our doors for the victims that needed help all because people feared Americans being hurt on our own soil. According to CNN, over half of the nation’s governors refused to let Syrian refugees into their states. The announcements came after some authorities revealed that one of the suspects for the Paris attacks had entered Europe in a recent wave of Syrian refugees. Since 2011, there had only been 1,500 Syrian refugees that entered America, but the Obama administration announced that 10,000 Syrian refugees would be allowed to cross the border next year. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said, "Defeating ISIS involves projecting American ideals to the world. Governors who reject those fleeing war and persecution abandon our ideals and instead project our fears to the world."
Some people believed that letting refugees in would be one of the biggest mistakes America could ever make, but there are some people, like myself, who question if that is really the case. Is closing our doors to the Syrian refugees, who are also victims of terrorism, really the best thing that we could do? If we close our doors, we are doing the opposite of what Jesus has instructed us to do. He told us to “love your neighbor as yourself” in Matthew 22:39. Syrian refugees are not our enemies; they do not hate us. Even if we thought that they were our enemies, we are told to love them by Jesus (Luke 6:27). We want to protect ourselves from those who may harm us, but in order to do so, some are willing to withhold their compassion from those who need it the most. Jesus wants us to love our neighbors, regardless if there are enemies among them. The refugees who have fled Syria are among the most love-starved people in the world. They have been forced to flee their homes. They have left family members behind. They have left their communities. They have nothing, and wherever they go no one wants them.
The Bible has a few passages that tells how people should treat refugees and those in need. We are to love the refugees as ourself. Leviticus 19:33-34 says,”And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” People are not to oppress the refugees. “Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). Invite the stranger in. “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 25:25-36).
Jesus is the ultimate pattern for our lives and throughout the Bible, we find Him showing compassion to multitudes of people (Matthew 8:3; Matthew 9:35-38; Matthew 14:14; Matthew 20: 32-34; Luke 7:13). It did not matter what type of ailment the people had, Jesus showed them compassion to the best of HIs ability, as so should we. People should not decide to whom they show compassion based on their race, background, or beliefs. Compassion is blind to those things. When you love the unloved and the broken, it always provokes the question to which Jesus is the answer: Why do you care? We care because Jesus cared for us first. He cared for us so much that He died on the cross for everyone, despite the hate people showed Him (John 3:16). Instead of fearfully turning away from Syrian refugees, we need to see the amazing opportunity we have to show the love of Christ.
By: Jennifer Odom
My name is Jennifer Odom and I've been a Christian since October 2011. I'm an 18-year-old freshman at Freed-Hardeman University. I like reading, crocheting, and Bible journaling. My favorite verse is Philippians 1:21. I write for Tomorrow's Church, Today and am the editor for Beyond the Foam. I hope to speak at several ladies days, become a music teacher, get involved with mission work, and bring as many people as I can with me to heaven. Stepping in Light is affiliated with the church of Christ.