Here’s the proposition.
Our national conscience is saying, “We can save the lives of thousands of people running from a war between three armies of indiscriminate and ruthless killers of men, women, and children who have turned their home into a charnel house but if we do, if we let them in the country, there’s an infinitesimal chance a handful of those people will be terrorists who will take the opportunity to do something murderous and bloody and an even more infinitesimal chance that that murderous and bloody act might kill you. What do you say about inviting those thousands of strangers who probably aren’t terrorists in?”
The Republican candidates for President and a growing list of Republican governors, along with one Democratic one and one nitwit Democratic mayor, and the usual gang of Right Wing gabblers in the media are telling us, “Don’t do it! Don’t let them in! Any of them! Slam the door! Let them die if it comes to that. A thousand of their lives aren’t worth your one.”
And we’re being told this is the tough, brave, and patriotic thing to do. And we’re being told it by people who in other circumstances make a big show out of being Christians.
Nobody with a smidgen of decency or self-respect believes this is either tough or brave or the American thing to do. Nobody who is even casually Christian believes this is what Jesus would want us to do.
“I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
But lots of folks are grateful for the excuse to give in to their fear and selfishness. They’re relieved to be assured they don’t have to exercise charity or mercy. They’re glad that the un-Christian thing to do good Christians are allowed to do.
“Jesus doesn’t obligate us to take people into our home who want to kill us,” is how a Christian put it to me on Twitter the other night when I posted the link to Matthew 25:31-46.
She also accused me of misquoting the verse in order to make a “liberal” point.
I didn’t quote the verse. I posted the link to it. And it’s not a liberal point. It’s a Christian point. It’s his point.
I’m convinced Right Wing Christians don’t read the bible, at least not the gospels, so it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them didn’t recognize Jesus’ own words. But she probably didn’t follow the link. Who on Twitter ever does? If she did click on it and read what was there, maybe she was just keeping in mind that even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
Which is not a quote from the Bible, by the way.
You probably knew that.
Getting back to it.
They know. In their hearts they know. Some of them do, anyway. They know they’re afraid. They know they’re being selfish. They know they’re not doing what Jesus would do. And for the record, they’re being told this by other conservative Christians.
Evangelical churches have been active in the welcoming and resettlement of Syrian refugees here for years.
As for Jesus not obligating us to take in people who want to kill us…he doesn’t say anything about that one way or another. Probably he’d have advised against it. But that’s beside the point. What’s implicit is that we’re not meant to ask questions or make assumptions. We don’t know any of the refugees will turn out to be terrorists in disguise. We know almost all of them won’t be. We also know that some of them won’t be deserving of our kindness and aid in other, less dramatic ways. We know some of them will repay us with contempt or by doing harm of some kind. We know this will happen because they're human beings. But we don't know which ones will turn out to be deserving and which ones won't and we’re not meant to try to find out before we do what Jesus asks of us. We’re not meant to demand of any one who needs our help, "Prove you deserve something to eat, clothes to wear, a place to find comfort and rest!" We’re to help out because they're his brothers and sisters, which makes them our brothers and sisters.
So let’s restate the proposition for the sake of Christians like my Twitter acquaintance.
“We can give in to a selfish fear for our own lives or we can do what Jesus expects us to do? Which will it be?”
Here it is, Matthew 25:31-40, cut and pasted from the Bible Gateway, so you know I didn’t misquote it.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 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, 36 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’