Cups, Refugees, and Neighbor Love in Action

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I haven’t been blogging as much as I like to lately. I think that might mean that my plate might actually be full? Well, none the less, I need to be blogging more. There has been so much to digest and confront lately.

To begin this post, consider this take from another person who sums up my thoughts better than I could, and as the author invites, I invite you to also to join me in holding the communities, families, and witnesses to all of these tragedies in prayer.

I woke this morning deeply disturbed by the news from #Paris, but more amazed by the attention it received on social media. I understand Paris is a beloved and familiar space for a lot of people, but it troubled me that #Beirut, a city my father grew up in, had received so little attention after the horrific bombings two days earlier. It also troubled me that #Baghdad, a place I have absolutely no connection with, received even less attention after the senseless bombing that took place there last week. Worst of all, I found the understanding of the refugee crisis skewed and simplistic. If you've been following the journeys of the people leaving their homes around the world right now, perhaps you'll understand why the words #SyrianRefugeeCrisis are just as devastating as #PrayForParis. It's time to pray for humanity. It is time to make all places beloved. It's time to pray for the world. #ezarawrites

A post shared by Karuna Ezara Parikh (@karunaezara) on

On Friday, I first learned of the terror and violence in Paris while drinking my Peppermint Hot Chocolate in a red cup at Starbucks while working alongside my wife Allison (and enjoying the “holiday drinks” 2-for-1 deal). To think that places of everyday gatherings such as a coffee shop could be a target is heartbreaking. But I remember back to September 11th, what is the way to guarantee that terrorists do not win? That you do not live in fear and isolation.

This gets to my next observation. States and countries are trying to prevent acceptance of refugees from Syria. These are the people of many faiths (especially Christianity and Islam) who are trying to flee and live safely from the insanity of ISIS. We are called to welcome the neighbor, refugee, and stranger. As one of this blog’s core themes is “neighbor love,” this is where the love of neighbor hits the road. Central to my faith is an understanding of how we respond to the gifts of love and life through the way we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we were ever facing such dire straights, I would hope that we would be welcomed.

It’s time to welcome those in need. To not welcome the refugees would be to let the terrorists win. Too many times in history the world has seen what happens when nations do nothing when they see people fleeing for their lives or stuck trying to escape persecution and murder. Haven’t we learned by now that this is exactly when we as society are supposed to act in defense and aid of our neighbor in need?

I have been keeping my opinions of the ridiculous presidential debate spectacles to myself lately. But the thought of requiring people to take some kind of a “faith test” before entering the United States is not only wrong and unconstitutional (obviously does not pass muster for church and state separation), its un-Christian. We are called to love and serve our neighbor, that’s it. Jesus doesn’t put any strings on this claim. Think of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Think of the woman at the well (John 4).

Whenever people or society create barriers, Jesus is there on the other side. Lest we forget, Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt as a baby, fleeing Herod with his parents shortly after his birth (Matthew 2:13-23).

How do we confront the evil of ISIS? How do we respond to the violence we saw in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad last week?

We respond by shedding light into darkness. That’s the starting place I believe. What does that look like? At the very least, it’s strengthening our resolve to welcome and meet the needs of the homeless and refugees.

How do we proclaim the promises of God’s love? By showing it in action and telling the story. What do you think?

2 comments on “Cups, Refugees, and Neighbor Love in Action”

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