Words like crisis and great get used too much. Waiting until 1:30 for lunch is often considered a crisis. Teams that almost make it to the playoffs are called great.
Sometimes those words are appropriate. Think Great Depression or Cuban Missile Crisis. Now is another time when those words are appropriate. What we are experiencing is a crisis. A great one.
But how will we respond?
Right now thousands of people from other countries are camped out on our southern border. For all of the problems in our country, it seems that people are still willing to make great sacrifices to come here. And now that they’re here, no one is quite sure what to do with them.
President Obama has tried moving some of these people to abandoned buildings in small towns. That hasn’t gone too well. Citizens in those small towns have made it very clear that these people, no matter how young or innocent they may be, are not welcome.
I’m a pastor in a small town. I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how I would respond if a busload of undocumented kids came rolling into my town. Would I spit on them? Would I tell them that they are not welcome in my town? What role, if any, would the Bible play in my reaction?
Let’s be clear. This is all happening because of failed leadership. Keeping an eye on our borders is a basic job description of the federal government. Not handing out free phones. Not promising free birth control. Just guard the border. They have failed to do their job. They have failed us.
But that still doesn’t help me to answer my question. What do I do if a couple of hundred kids come into my town looking to settle? I know what I ought to do. But ought and want don’t always make good friends. That’s where the gospel comes in. It helps my want to fall in line with the ought.
When the Samaritan did his good deed to a man who had been nearly killed by robbers, he didn’t look for the proper paper work first (Luke 10:25-37). He wasn’t concerned with the social or political problems that led up to the man’s troubles. He just helped. And his compassion was sacrificial. He treated the victim’s sickness. He provided shelter for the victim.
And Jesus told us to do the same (Luke 10:37).
That’s how we’re supposed to react when they come to our town.
We would be naive to believe that only innocent children are crossing our border. There is no doubt that terrorists are easily making their way into our country. Our government has proven themselves unworthy of our trust. Not so with our Creator. Should we encounter those with ill will who are crossing our border illegally, God will provide us with the grace that we will need. But along with protecting ourselves from terrorists, we must be willing to protect those who are legitimately in need. Even if they don’t belong here.
It doesn’t mean that we have to help drive busloads of people across the border and deep into the heartland. We would be wise to do nothing on behalf of a government that uses children and borders as instruments for gaining more power. We need to hold our government accountable. But even still, there’s a good chance that those children currently camped out on our southern border could end up in our town squares and on our doorsteps.
When we see them, we can pass by on the other side.
But as we do, we will be forced to wrestle with the inconsistency of our so-called faith. How can we support the life of an unborn child while passing by on the other side of an older child, simply because he got here illegally? How can the one time enemies of God enjoy the benefits of belonging to the family of God while passing by on the other side of those who simply do not belong in our country?
Our nation’s leadership has blown it. But that doesn’t mean that we have to blow it too as we try to live under the consequences of corrupt and inept leaders.
How will we respond when those who do not belong come to our town?
If all we do is pass by on the other side, we will be a part of the crisis.
And it will be a great one.
“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:45-46 (ESV)