What happens to individuals after issues are won and lost in the political arena? For instance: when immigration bans are enacted, then put on hold, and then finally settled (Supreme Court?), what happens to the people affected by a ban or lack of a ban?

What do you mean? Either they can come into the country or they can’t.

And then what?

What do you mean, “And then what?” It’ll be over. It’s settled.

For most people, it will be over. The “issue” of refugees being received in this country will, more or less, be settled. The fighting, fundraising, protesting, and legal challenges will be over. There will be new issues to dispute. But… what happens to the refugees? What will happen to the men, women, and children who arrive in our cities? What’s happening to the refugees who are already in our cities? Do you know?

It would be unthinkable to actually receive refugees into our homes, right? Conservatives love to throw this challenge at progressives. “If you want them here so badly, why don’t you take them into your house?!” Conservatives, not wanting the refugees to be here in the first place, would never do such a thing themselves but they raise an interesting question.

A “video prankster,” Joey Salads, recently showed up at Los Angeles International Airport to conduct a social experiment on those who were protesting President Trump’s immigration and refugee bans. Carrying a clipboard and wearing a “Feel the Bern” t-shirt, Salads asks the protesters if they’d be willing to offer shelter to the refugees. He finally finds one protester who’s kind of interested:

“I’m very interested in helping,” one guy answers. “I’m a little apprehensive, and I also have a female roommate who’s, like, a very nervous girl … but I’m very interested.”

“How many refugees will you be willing to hold?” Salads asks him.

The guy says he has only a couch to spare.

When Salads tells him that would be enough — in addition to providing “food and water” — the guy wonders how long he’d have to keep that up.

“Until legislation passes,” Salads replies.

“I don’t know that I could commit to that,” the guy answers.

Of course, this is the result we’d expect. When most Americans say, “Something ought to be done,” we don’t mean us personally. We mean a law should be passed. The government ought to do something. Or a charitable organization. Somebody. Not me.

Conservatives do the same thing. Doing something about abortion means voting for pro-life candidates and maybe giving a few dollars when the representative from the pro-life women’s clinic shows up to speak on Sanctity of Life Sunday.

Abortion should be illegal.

But she doesn’t want the baby. She can’t take care of a baby right now.

Well, put it up for adoption. 

So, you’ll adopt the baby?

What? No, not me. Someone.

The easiest thing we can do about an issue is keyboard activism: let ‘er rip on the internet. Next easiest is voting. You actually have to drive to your polling place for that. But that’s typically where our efforts stop.

As we update our Facebook statuses, Tweet, or even make the effort to show up at a protest, we need to be reminded that the reason “issues” are important is because flesh and blood people are behind these issues. The people remain after laws are passed and bans are enacted or lifted.

People are precious. People are more important than issues.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind after our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Humans are created in the image of God. Therefore, people enjoy inherent worth and dignity beyond that of any other created thing. Even with this reminder and re-affirmation, there is still the temptation to allow “people” to remain a nameless, faceless, fuzzy concept. Sort like doing something “for the children.” We have to push ourselves toward another degree of intimacy. People must become neighbors.

Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him [Jesus] 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 22:34-40)

But who is my neighbor? I’m glad you asked. A young lawyer once asked this of Jesus. Stick with me; their discussion bears repeating in full:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

A neighbor has compassion. Not just the emotional feeling of compassion but the act of compassion. How? By showing mercy. A neighbor shows mercy by being willing to interrupt the normal routine of their day-to-day lives for the sake of someone else, particularly those in need. A neighbor gives their time (he saw him and he went to him), their practical resources (he bound his wounds, he set him on his own animal), and their money (he took out two denarii and a running tab).

Christians are to follow Christ. We follow his teachings and commands and his example. Jesus said, “You go, and do likewise.” He did not say, “Pass a law.” We follow him whether Caesar acts or doesn’t act. Caesar’s gonna do what Caesar’s gonna do. We follow Christ whether the President is Democrat or Republican (or Libertarian?!). We don’t have to wait for laws to be passed or bans to be lifted.

This is a message I had to preach to myself. I watched as President Trump enacted a 90-day ban on people entering the country from seven countries, a 120-day ban on all refugees, and an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. I continued to watch as protesters arrived at airports and judges began to weigh in. I thought to myself, “I don’t know how this is all going to turn out, but I know there’s got to be refugees in my city right now.”

I just recently moved to Oklahoma City so I began to familiarize myself with what the Church was already doing here. Of course, Catholic Charities has a very active and wide-ranging operation. Much credit to them. However, I am not Catholic so I kept searching to see if anything else was going on. My local church is affiliated with the 405 Center (“connecting the people of our city together, for the good of the needs of the people in our city”). I signed up for 405 Center training so my family and I can be better equipped to serve. I learned about The Common, a program of The Spero Project (“mobilizing the Church on behalf of international refugees who have become our neighbors in Oklahoma City”). I’m going to attend one of their upcoming sessions to learn more about the OKC refugee community and how their network operates. I’ll also be joining El Camino del Immigrante (“a prayer pilgrimage in solidarity with immigrants and refugees who are suffering in our community and around the world”) on March 4th. Come join us if you live near Oklahoma City!

However things turn out politically, I can act now and so can you. Chances are there is ministry already taking place in your city that you can join. If not, talk to your church elders. Begin to pray. Perhaps you are the one to spearhead a new effort.

For those of us who are Christian libertarians, it is imperative that we act. Why? Libertarians are the ones who are always saying that the State shouldn’t be involved in just about everything. What if we actually got what we wanted? Would the Church be ready to step up? Would you? More importantly, it shouldn’t really matter what the State does or does not do. All the law and prophets hang on the Bride of Christ loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Let’s be good neighbors and care about people more than we care about issues. We don’t have to wait. Regardless of what Caesar does, let the Church be the Church.

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Jeff Wright

Jeff Wright is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. His other areas of interest include the kingdom of God, American evangelicalism, the ministry of the local church, obstacle course racing, and all things Star Wars. He blogs at JeffWrightJr.com in addition to Libertarian Christian Institute. You can also find him @jeffwrightjr and facebook.com/PursuingTruth.
  • Louis Charles

    It is truly sad that I am so far, the only one to comment. I would like to ask the author one basic question(s) before I go forward: On a purely quantitative level, how many people do you think America should see living within it’s borders before it stops population growth? Do you envision the whole nation looking like the northeastern seaboard or Los Angeles County?

  • GrayCat

    Mr. Wright, where do you get your news? I don’t think you get it from any outlet that actually reports on and exposes real events, especially pertaining to U.S. wars of aggression and what Islam really is, what its members say and do in every country they’re given refuge in, and what its goals are, truthfully.

    You might be interested to know these “refugees” are mostly not refugees. They are mostly young men. Men of military and fighting age; men who worship their “prophet” unquestioningly, and who are determined that YOU WILL NOT question him, either, on pain of death, usually beheading. Wherever they are taken in and “settled,” they rape and steal and murder and riot; they are not grateful or in any way amenable to their host country. They even claim that the help of their host countries and the native people hosting them, is not acceptable, not enough, not holy.

    Have you ever read and studied the Quran and the Hadiths? Have you studied the origins and history of the people you’re calling “refugees”? Do you know what Sharia Law is?

    Do you know anything at all about those “helpless” people you’re trying to shame us with? Have you ever gone into a Muslim enclave and preached Jesus to the “American” Muslims there? Try it. Not in the “refugee” centers, but in the actual Muslim communities. See how far you get, and what an education you get about Muhammad and Allah, and Jesus. Try reading some knowledgeable Christian authors on this subject, like Ravi Zacharias, for instance. Look him up at his Web site, RZIM[.]org; you’ll find lots of helps there on this subject.

    Where did Jesus say to knowingly take in someone who has no compunctions against raping and beating your wife and daughters, and holding them for ransom, and offering you the option of either converting to Islam or paying a tax to breathe, while your female — and male child — family members are kept or sold as slaves — usually sex slaves?

    Even in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, the Good Samaritan takes the beaten man — a man actually injured, not asking for material goodies or a room or board or job — to an inn, and pays for his continued nursing back to health — but not nursed by him, personally. After that, what? The Good Samaritan doesn’t take the man into his own house. Doesn’t make provision for anything else at all.

    Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Snakes avoid being trampled as much as they can; they’re alert to where heavy ungulates’ and human feet step. They watch and dodge if they would survive. Doves may not offer harm to other creatures, but they don’t stick around to be pounced on and eaten, either. They were given wings by God and eyes on the sides of their heads to be able to see almost 360 degrees around them, and above and below them, for a reason.

    And if we Christians were to actually give up our homes and wealth and become itinerant preachers and teachers, where would we domicile these “refugees”? Do we have a right to point to other Christians and insist THEY take the people we can’t? Who says?

    In Acts 5, what is the Holy Spirit’s response and rebuke, through the Apostle Peter, to Ananais and Saphira? Who owns what God gives you, and allocates it?

    True compassion, coupled with the peaceful wisdom from above (James 3:17-18) is to honestly and accurately assess people and situations, and make correct decisions that will protect the innocent, not put them in danger from evil men with evil intent through unwise and misguided “compassion.”

    The “refugees” aren’t innocent, but bent on fulfilling the dictates of their abusive, murdering, pedophile “prophet,” which is to conquer and destroy, enslave and murder, those who are not Islamic and who will not convert to Islam. Try looking on YouTube at actual confrontations and documentaries of “refugees” and Islamic immigrants. Try finding out about the real issues before presuming to shame your fellow Christians and their innocent, vulnerable families into a form of “compassion” Jesus never advocated.

    Instead, how about advocating for the cessation of the cause of this “refugee” crisis — the immoral and unConstitutional meddling of the U.S. government into the affairs of other sovereign nations, invading them, starting wars with them, destroying their homes and infrastructures, murdering their family members, in the name, of course, of “democracy” and even, blasphemously, “Christianity.” How about advocating to offer compassion to the real victims, the real refugees, the ancient Christians who are fleeing from their ancient homelands because the U.S. government has stirred up their erstwhile neighbors, the Muslims, who are now renewing their vows of wiping out Christians from among them, the ancient Christians who have been, for almost two millennia, paying the jizya tax, so they could exist without converting to Islam?

    Send the Muslim “refugees” back to their homelands. Send away any legally settled Muslims here who have not abandoned Islam and have not actually assimilated into our culture unreservedly. Are you aware that the majority of “terroristic” crimes, murders, in America since 911, have been committed by “American” Muslims, born and reared here, or “radicalized” Muslim converts?

    If you will please learn the truth about Islam, you won’t be so quick to castigate the rest of us for acting on our knowledge of the truth of this political system called Islam, and God-given wisdom.

  • I do not believe the U.S. government, or any other, should attempt to stop population growth. (How would this even be accomplished? Forced sterilizations?)

    I don’t know about the northeastern seaboard or Los Angeles County but I envision the whole nation, along with the entire world, looking like a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, worshipping before the throne of God. This is God’s vision as well (Rev. 7:9-12).

  • Hello Anonymous! I think you missed the point of the article since I didn’t take a position on immigration policy. As far as Muslim enclaves, yes, I’ve been to Saudi Arabia several times. I’ve been in the homes of actual Saudi Arabian Muslims (I was not beheaded!). I had the privilege of bringing tapes into that country to share the Gospel with Muslims. I like RZIM very much. Ravi and Nabeel Qureshi do not speak about this subject as you are doing here. I also did not specifically advocate for Christians to take refugees into their homes but, since you ask, Jesus knowingly took Judas in so perhaps we should explore the implications of that act. You call foreign intervention immoral and unconstitutional, and I would agree, but then you call for the immoral and unconstitutional deportation of “legally settled Muslims.” If the ban on refugees stays, will you be a neighbor to the refugees who are already here? I am not going to take a family into my home at this time either but there are many other needs such as learning English, learning how to get around town, where to go to shop for food, assistance in finding work, basic friendship, and hearing about Jesus and the Gospel. Perhaps you’d be willing to participate in being a Christian neighbor in one of these ways?

  • GrayCat

    Hello, Mr. Wright.
    Thank you for your gracious reply.
    I’m curious how you got Christian tapes into Saudi Arabia, and what was the result of that — other than your (thankfully) not being beheaded. Then.

    There is one incident where Ravi very forcefully answers a Muslim on the question of Islam vs. Christianity. And I believe there is a video of that on YouTube. At any rate, you’re correct that Ravi and Nabeel Qureshi do not speak as I did here.

    What was the confrontation about when you asked the protesters whether they would be willing to take in refugees into their homes? Granted, the protesters weren’t Christian, but why else is that question relevant to your audience?

    Yes, Jesus did knowingly take Judas in. So? Judas was of the same culture, in the same circumstances as Jesus, not a “refugee” seeking things from an alien foreign culture. Judas is your only answer to the points I made? How is that really applicable to my points?

    There’s nothing immoral or unConstitutional about deporting people who are a threat to the people of this country. It’s not even unChristian to prohibit an immoral, threatening unbeliever, or even a professing “Christian,” from your house and congregation.

    I am a neighbor to anyone who wants to be reciprocally neighborly to me and my family. I can love even enemies without allowing them to threaten or violate me and my family.

    Please take the time to look up the realities of people who are in fact living with Muslim “neighbors.” You can find plenty of documentation on YouTube. Did you see the latest riots in Paris? France has been dealing with these people for several decades now. They have always erupted into violence, and have never assimilated. And now it’s so out of control even militarized police cannot keep the peace. It is the same in Germany, Norway, Sweden, London, Denmark. Yugoslavia and Romania refuse to allow Muslim “refugees” into their countries. Italy, even the Vatican, is experiencing this “religion of peace” now that it’s actually there. It’s not peaceful. It won’t assimilate and respect host cultures.

    Are there not people and facilities ready, willing, and able to teach the native language, get around town, shop for food, find work, offering basic friendship, and hearing about Jesus in any of the countries where the “refugees” have been taken in? There are. And there are right here.

    Until the “refugees” are willing to be assimilated into the culture of the country they are “seeking asylum” in and settling in, abandoning the Quran, the Hadiths, and Sharia (Sharia Law is now legally, separately, “the law” for Muslims in Missouri), they are not “refugees” or neighbors, but an invading force.

    I appreciate and admire your earnestness and truly striving to let Christ shine through you. But there ARE political and ideological issues that must be dealt with in truth and honesty, in the interest of reality, of protecting the innocent, if nothing else. Being blind to the realities of what Islam is and who are its legion is unChristian, because it denies the truth.

    While Jesus freely offers salvation, there are conditions that must be met in order for one to truly be saved. One of the most important is to stop whatever you’re sinning at, to “Go, and leave your life of sin.” You are henceforth forbidden to throw stones at others, and you do have to make sure that you leave your own sin. Requiring Muslim “refugees” to do that — to leave those tenets of their ideology as a condition of being allowed to settle in this country — is reasonable and Christian. It’s our house, and there are no obligations to allow burglars and rapists and murderers in. We are the strongmen, and it is our responsibility, as Jesus teaches, to secure our house. It’s a simple choice: either come and join us, as we live by a different set of customs and laws that you must also adopt, or if you don’t really want to do that, don’t.

  • Constitutional1

    Jeff, although much of what you have written is a great encouragement to beneficial action, regrettably, I find your post slanderous of others (‘conservatives are do-nothing’s that don’t want refugees here”) and seemingly ignorant of the fact that God does use laws and did advocate establishing them civilly. Jesus did not seek to pass laws because he was not ruling civilly at the time of this recorded ministry.

    Jesus issued us commandments (which we show our love for him by obeying and following). Antinomianism is not biblical. Law does not, nor has ever justified anyone, but it can be used properly to deal with transgressions against people, define justice, and to set forth outside boundaries for the limits of human cultural behavior.

    Your sound, loving, advocacy for faith-led action to help others and show Christ’s love towards them is being drowned out by your poking people with unjustified rhetorical sharp sticks (a common flaw in self-justifcation oriented libertarian discourse [“I am so thankful I am not sinful like those guys over there]). If your goal is to reach the people you think should do (and think about) things differently, you might reconsider your method. (But it seems quite okay for use with the amen corner. But maybe you consider the evil “conservatives” to be unreachable and unworthy of your ideas, compared to the relatively virtuous, enlightened and way more receptive to godly principle, libertarians?)

    Toning down the absolutes about the motivations and actions of others would help. I know it is sometimes frustrating to see inaction when you think perceived needs warrant otherwise. But it is important to not allow any bitterness over such to creep into your communications.

  • C1,
    If you will notice, I did not state or advocate for a particular legal/political position regarding what the U.S. government does about legal and illegal immigrants and refugees. Right? That is because followers of Christ are to be neighbors to all regardless of ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, etc. We demonstrate the love of Christ to all. You can vote for candidates who want to shut down all immigration but what are you, as a Christian, going to do about being a neighbor to those who are already here? Or letting an illegal immigrant be a neighbor to you (it was a hated Samaritan who showed mercy to a Jew in Jesus’s story, after all)?