Syrian Refugees: What Would Jesus Do?

And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:35-40 NET]

Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10:25-37 NET]

It is difficult at times to write about the application of Christian doctrine to our lives without getting cynical. We try very hard to avoid sounding off on Veracity. But, I have to admit that the self-absorption with American politics that we see in the media is disturbing. In a world full of suffering—that desperately needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be applied in relief efforts—we are drowning in a sea of political rhetoric that panders to isolationists and preys upon their fears. Don’t agree? Turn on any news program and count the minutes devoted to American politics. Also, while you’re watching, keep track of the minutes devoted to the four million refugees inside and fleeing Syria.

The Crisis in Photographs
Syrian Refugees

A sea of hungry, haunted faces looks out from a massive queue that snakes through the bombed out Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Syria. In the photo, taken on January 31, 2014 in Damascus’ Palestinian refugee camp, men, women, and children were in line for aid that included desperately needed food and medical supplies. There were more than 18,000 people in the Yarmouk camp, and many were starving to death.

Syria – Save the Children

Syria – Save the Children

Syrian Migrants

Migrants are escorted through fields by Slovenian police and the army as they walk from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp in October, 2015. (Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

Syrian 7

Millions of Syrians escape an apocalyptic civil war, creating a historic crisis.

Wounded Syrian Girl

A wounded Syrian girl stands in a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of Syria’s capital of Damascus, following shelling and air raids by Syrian government forces on August 22, 2015. At least 20 civilians were killed, and another 200 wounded or trapped in Douma, a monitoring group said, just six days after regime airstrikes killed more than 100 people and sparked international condemnation of one of the bloodiest government attacks in Syria’s war.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of refugees died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on September 2, 2015. The tides also washed up the bodies of the boy's 5-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehan on Turkey's Bodrum peninsula. Their father, Abdullah, survived the tragedy.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of refugees died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on September 2, 2015. The tides also washed up the bodies of the boy’s 5-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehan on Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula. Their father, Abdullah, survived the tragedy.

A Dutch volunteer tries to comfort a migrant moments after arriving aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos October 23, 2015.

A Dutch volunteer tries to comfort a migrant moments after arriving aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos on October 23, 2015.

A Syrian refugee family with a Lebanon Bible Society aid package. The Bible Society provides aid for around 3,000 Syrian refugee families.

A Syrian refugee family with a Lebanon Bible Society aid package. The Bible Society provides aid for around 3,000 Syrian refugee families.

Pastoral Comment

After publishing this post, one of our astute readers called the following video to our attention. Pastor Max Vanderpool of Generations Community Church in Kentucky hit the nail on the head. We need to wake up and be vocal about what is happening. We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The world is full of hatred and fear and self-absorption. Get involved. Show some compassion. That’s what Jesus would do!

What Can We Do?

Here are four organizations that provide aid to Syrian refugees, and others in the Middle East, in the name of Jesus Christ. Please consider clicking the links below to learn more about them and their relief efforts. Please use the donate links to make your year-end charitable contributions to show that you understand Jesus’ teaching in Luke 10:25-37.

World Vision Syrian Refugee Fund (Donate)

Christian Aid Mission (Donate for Shinar Mission)

Open Doors USA (Donate)

Samaritans Purse (Donate)

 

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

10 responses to “Syrian Refugees: What Would Jesus Do?

  • Clarke Morledge

    John, In my previous blog post on this topic, I was not as brave to post the photos that you did. However, I am glad you did. It is so easy to dismiss the Syrian refugee crisis as simply a bunch of numbers without faces. These are families: men, women and children. It really drives the issue to home for me. We must pray for how we can help these people and respond in obedience.

    Thank you.
    Clarke

  • Joan Kelley

    I’m just weeping for them

  • Joan Kelley

    Jesus, tell each of us what to do

    • John Paine

      Thanks Joan for commenting. We need to be vocal about what is happening and what we have been commanded to do–as Pastor Max Vanderpool states in his video (which I have added to the post). If more people had your compassion, we wouldn’t need to write posts like this.

      As Dave Thompson said recently, “We are not called to safety and security; we are called to love, and to love much is to risk much. The Gospel is risk. We are called to risk. 2 Corinthians 11 confirms this with regard to Paul’s calling and life.”

  • Faith

    John, are we opening up our country and families to terrorist? Really devastating terrorism.
    Faith

  • John Paine

    Faith,

    Unfortunately, what we seem to be doing mostly is turning our backs on people who desperately need our help. We can’t be naive and ignore the security problems, but neither can we ignore the suffering of millions of innocent victims. If we, as followers of Jesus Christ, fail to help them, we will really have missed the point of His teaching.

    • Faith

      John,
      I agree we should help those in need. But I don’t think it is isolationism or even politics to be cautious of obvious evil. We need to offer aid in a way that doesn’t open our front doors and hand our families over to murders. We know for a fact that ISIS is using these refugees as a Trojan horse. Being wise doesn’t mean not caring or helping. Just in different ways.

      Sorry, I’m back…proverbial penny.

      miss you all a lot.

    • Faith

      Those pictures of people and children suffering in Syria are heart wrenching and I want to help them but not bring those pictures here, our homes. Maybe that is isolationist but can’t we be more vigilant on which of the refugees we bring home? We used to be careful about allowing immigrants to enter with the plagues. It seems smart to investigate each one.
      When Moses told the Faithful to paint red on their doors and not open them to the screaming suffering people that night in Egypt, moral dilemmas. There has to be a way to help those in need and not let the evil in.

    • Clarke Morledge

      Faith: Following Jesus is always risky.

      If we welcome the refugee, we risk being exposed to things that might threaten and harm us, as you have pointed out.

      On the other hand, if we turn away the refugee, we risk being disobedient to the Great Commission. For centuries, the Muslim world has been closed to the Gospel, but just within the last 15 years, there have been more movements of Muslims coming to know Jesus than in all of the previous 14 centuries of Islam, much of the change due to changing patterns of immigration. Are we risking turning away someone whom God has called us to share Jesus with?

      “So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19 NLT)

      These are not easy questions to ask and answer, so you are right to be asking them. But risk-free discipleship is really an illusion:

      Whom are we to fear? God or man?

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