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
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)
December 26th, 2015 at 9:54 pm
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.
December 26th, 2015 at 10:06 pm
Please tell us how we can contribute to your friend’s relief efforts!
December 26th, 2015 at 10:05 pm
I’m just weeping for them
December 26th, 2015 at 10:07 pm
Jesus, tell each of us what to do
December 28th, 2015 at 12:21 am
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.”
January 10th, 2016 at 9:33 pm
John, are we opening up our country and families to terrorist? Really devastating terrorism.
January 11th, 2016 at 5:52 am
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.
January 11th, 2016 at 8:05 am
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.
January 11th, 2016 at 8:21 am
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.
January 12th, 2016 at 9:18 am
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?