by guest blogger Chris Gilmore
You’ve heard about the kids in camps at the border. You’ve likely heard that the US government argued in court that it should not have to give these kids blankets, beds, soap, or toothbrushes. And you may have heard someone say that while this is sad, we can’t do much about it because we have to “take care of our own first.”
What they’re really saying is: These people don’t deserve our help because there are others more like us (in color, language, country of origin) who deserve it more just because they’re more like us.
Used this way, “Take care of our own first,” is un-Christian.
Jesus commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). When an expert in religious law responded to this command with the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29), Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. Your neighbor, Jesus says, is that person of a different faith, from across the border, and of a despised ethnicity—someone most good religious folk avoid.
As followers of Jesus, our boundaries go far beyond national borders. We belong to a great family that includes every tongue and tribe and people. Many of those fleeing persecution and poverty and violence ar also followers of Jesus, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Many are also children. Children are often among “the least of these,” people with limited power or resources. How we treat them, Jesus says, is how we treat him. When a kid is denied medical care or a blanket, Jesus is too.
Some make excuses why they can’t or shouldn’t help. Why they shouldn’t feel bad. Why they should instead care for others more like themselves.
We can only make these arguments by viewing these people through a lens of nationalism rather than through the eyes of Jesus.
As disciples of Jesus, our citizenship in his kingdom trumps national identity. Young and old. undocumented or documented, asylum seekers and desperate night-time crossers. All are our neighbors.
We can and should have secure borders and an orderly legal process for immigration and seeking asylum. And we can have these while offering dignity and toothbrushes to anyone and everyone, including homeless people and veterans.
It’s not a money issue. It’s a heart issue.
If government can’t figure out how to do it, they should step aside and let humanitarian organizations care for these precious people.
May we have hearts to know and love our neighbors. May we know and love and care for those who live down the street and around the world and in detention camps. May we see people instead of categories, the image of God instead of immigration status.
May the kingdom come on the southern border as it is in heaven.
“Jesus, help me to see people who are unlike me through your eyes and respond with your heart.”
Chris Gilmore blogs at iamchrisgilmore.com where a longer version of this post first appeared. (Thanks for letting me share it, Chris!) He and his wife Kristin are pastors of The Dwelling Church in Wichita, Kansas.
If you’re looking for a tangible way to help children at the border, Chris and I have high confidence in the ministry of Heart to Heart International (H2H) which was founded by our friend Gary Morsch. Click here for info on what H2H is doing at the border and for how you can donate.