Last month, the four year Syrian crisis hit home in the United States in a more visible way than ever before. Governors all across the United States, including the State of Georgia where I live and the State of Texas where I was reared, began protesting the Federal Government’s decision to allow Syrian refugees into the United States. As I began to see the polls, hear the commentary, and read the Facebook comments my heart sank as citizens and more importantly Christians showed vehement hostility and little empathy to the men, women, and children of Syria who are literally running for their lives.
Christians who serve, follow, and even worship perhaps the most famous refugee in history, have either forgotten or not paid close attention to a story that many have already begun celebrating as we enter the Christmas season. Or have we forgotten that almost as soon as Jesus was born, the leader of an oppressive military regime was hunting for his life? That’s right! After the wise men would not participate in Herod’s plot to capture and kill Jesus, he put out an order to kill all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under. This is all recorded in the book of Matthew’s account detailing the beginning of the life of Jesus. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fled to Africa as refugees to escape the death threat of Herod. Someone had to be compassionate enough to accept them. Jesus’ survival depended on Africans being Loving enough to give refuge to a foreigner whose life was in danger.
Some two thousand years later, Americans, who have built a faith around a refugee from Bethlehem, cannot find the same Love in their heart as Syrian refugees scramble to find safe haven from the violence of Civil War and the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Even if we could not learn from our faith, we should at least take heed of the facts. According to the reports of Meet the Press, since 9/11 785,000 refugees have been admitted in America. Out of those hundreds of thousands, only about a dozen have been arrested or removed due to terrorists concerns. This is about .0015% of refugees. However, none of those who have been removed or arrested were Syrian.
People of faith always have a responsibility to discern what their faith asks of them in any given political climate. This Christmas, I hope those of us who Love Christ, will remember the kind of Love it took to keep Christ alive. I don’t know if those Africans who took in Mary, Joseph, and their child knew the historical impact of what they were doing. I imagine they did not. That’s what makes it beautiful. They simply chose to Love. And when we choose to Love, we never know what God might do.
Humbly in Christ’s Love,
Pastor B.A. Jackson