Matthew 25:34-40 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Leviticus 19:34, But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 10:19, Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Hebrews 13:1-2, Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
As we have mentioned previously, even with the most casual reading of the Bible, especially the New Testament, one will soon come to the conclusion and conviction that, while God loves everyone, there is a special place in the heart of God for the poor and the needy, the helpless, and the marginalized. I refer to these as “the least of these” because this is how Jesus referred to them in Matthew 25!
Concerning the passage above, I have often said, “It doesn’t matter how we slice and dice Matthew 25:31-46, there just is no way of getting around the fact that our Master, the Lord Jesus, is concerned about the poor, the sick, the needy, the hurting, and the marginalized of a society, and He expects His people to be concerned for them also!”
And this would include “strangers” or better known today as refugees and immigrants!
This matter of immigrants and refugees has become such a “hot button” issue in the United States, and, of course, politically speaking, it is a complicated issue. Yet, for the people of God there’s nothing complicated about it. We are to love and care for the “strangers,” “aliens,” or “foreigners.” We are to love and care for refugees and immigrants. Case closed!
Let’s briefly talk about refugees. The refugee crisis is one of those human tragedies for which there seem to be no real solutions, at least that is what some would have us to believe. Some options may be better than others, but there is nothing that can honestly be called a solution. Nevertheless many countries, including the United States, could do a lot better. The immediate problems are the masses of desperate men, women, and children, fleeing from the wars and terrorism of the Middle East and Central America, who are flooding into Europe and the United States. And sadly, not all of them make it alive!
The United Nations defines a refugee as “Any person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
According to the those in the know, there are over 25 million people that would meet this criteria today. That number is certainly growing daily, given ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. And about twice that number – 40 million — are “internally displaced,” uprooted and forced to seek shelter in their own country. Over 42,500 such people, each and every day, are forced to flee their homes and seek protection elsewhere.
You would think that anyone with a sense of decency and humanity would want to help those who have been through harrowing experiences and have arrived, exhausted and desperate, on the shores of Europe. A few weeks ago, I posted these words on Instagram:
Christ’s commands for us, as found in the Bible, coupled with the depth of poverty—both physical and spiritual—persecution, and pain around the world, along with the reality of the abundance in our homes and our churches, have huge implications for us to ponder as American Christians concerning the refugee and immigration crisis in our world today!
The question is, “What Can We Do?”
1] To start off with, we can see what the Bible has to say about what our attitude and actions should be when it comes to refugees, whether from the Middle East, Northern Africa, or Central America. Far too many of us are getting fed an unbiblical way of thinking from our politicians and political pundits, rather than seeking principles from God’s word!
2] Of course, we can pray! When was the last time you brought this great need to your heavenly Father?
3] We can give! Jesus made it very clear that where our treasure is, the will be our heart also. Look for some organizations that are working with refugees and start supporting them.
4] We can go! Whether on a short term trip or to serve full-time, nothing will help our heart more than to see the need up close. Prayerfully consider visiting one of the many Refugee Camps around the world.
5] Start looking around for refugees that live in your community. You’d be surprised to find out how many there may be!
A few year’s ago my wife put together a brief video concerning the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which I used at our home church to show our Christian school students, as well as our Bible college students. I would encourage you to check it out!
Just Reflecting on The Least of These!