Yesterday, I watched a video showing angry American protesters in Murrieta, California turning away three buses transporting about 140 illegal immigrants to a holding station to be “processed”. To say I was emotional about what I was seeing is putting it mildly as I vacillated from anger to compassion, to disbelief, and back again.
As an American, I thought I understood why the protesters were angry. However, as a Christian American, why would I be angry and with whom was I angry? Should not my heart be over-flowing with compassion for the mothers and children on those buses looking for help from the greatest country in the world?
Honestly, my heart was not over-flowing and my mind was screaming along with the protesters, “No! Go home!” Shocked, I tried to assess my reaction – to understand it first, and then to evaluate whether I needed to change, both as an American and as a follower of Christ.
First, as an American I am concerned about four things:
1) The $17 trillion debt our country is facing because of a government spending above its means
2) America’s own homeless and poor
3) Continuing unacceptable unemployment among all Americans, particularly among the young Black and Latino populations
4) An already over-burdened healthcare system where providers are shrinking and consumers are growing
America is no longer a country with unlimited resources, by which we can take care of all the “tired, poor, and huddled masses” (words inscribed on a plague in the base of our Statue of Liberty) who want to enter our country. If immigrants are entering our country illegally, a huge moral element becomes part of the issue.
Secondly, I struggle as a Christian with this moral issue. I am reminded of the biblical story of the “Good Samaritan” in which Jesus shares a parable with a man who has asked him what he must do to be saved. Luke 10: 29-37 shows the importance of taking care of the stranger in need among us.
“29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 In reply, Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” [Bold mine]
Jesus says nothing about the victim in this parable except that he was robbed and beaten. We assume the victim was also unresponsive, possibly unconscious. This ‘stranger’ represents anyone of us.
Yet even after reading the parable, I am still very concerned about America, but I am no longer confused about what I must do as a follower of Christ. I cannot just pass by. Americans must pray and have faith that the God of our fathers and our land is able to provide for us and for the stranger among us. To whom much is given, much is also required.
We (America) should be the ‘good Samaritan’ to these people who have crossed our borders uninvited. However, as long as America has its own broken people — the uneducated and unemployed, the poor and homeless, the sick and disabled, and a national debt approaching $18 trillion — we will become as bruised, vulnerable, and in need of rescue as the man in the parable. In addition, America will gain a reputation as a country both unfaithful and hypocritical when it comes to its own people. Will there be anyone to rescue America?
1Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”