Jesus, Refugees, and Terrorists – by Eliezer Gonzalez
- Bible study
- Christian Evidences
- Christian Living
- Dr Eliezer Gonzalez
Nov 20, 2015 1432
So let’s not pretend that how we respond to refugees and terrorists has nothing to do with the gospel and our identity as Christians.
Jesus knew a lot about refugees and terrorists. He lived in first-century Judaea, a nation gripped by terrorism. He didn’t preach and teach in some abstract, idealistic vacuum. In fact the greatest number of refugees in antiquity were probably the Jewish people themselves, dispersed in massive numbers throughout the Roman Empire.
As a child, Jesus was a refugee from his nation due to political persecution. King Herod was fearful that the recently born King might usurp his power.
At his death, Christ was executed between two terrorists. That’s what the best modern equivalent for the two men who were executed alongside Jesus. Essentially, the official charge against Christ was a political one. He died as an accused usurper of the power of Rome.
So Jesus spend part of his childhood as a refugee, and died among terrorists.
Jesus taught that how we treat refugees is how we treat him:
I was a stranger and you invited me in… 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:35,40
The word for stranger in the Greek here is xenos, which specifically means a “foreigner,” which directly implies in the culture of the day someone of a different race, culture, and religion. Back then you didn’t leave your own country unless you faced dire hardship, persecution or death. These xenos to whom Jesus refers are refugees, and they were all technically “illegal” immigrants, since there were no border controls as we know them today.
The sobering truth is that it is on the basis of how we treat these xenos that the nations will be separated into the sheep and the goats (v.32). It is on this basis that some will go to eternal punishment, and others to eternal life (v.46).
I know that this may be shocking for many. How can this be possible? Because this is a demonstration of whether we have understood and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ into our hearts, and whether we have allowed it to transform our lives.
The reality of the gospel is that Jesus Christ’s final, culminating act of ministry on earth was to forgive a terrorist and assure him of admittance to paradise – freely and unconditionally – only because he asked.
Nothing of this removes the responsibility that the nations have to protect their citizens, and to root out and destroy the evil of terrorism. Nothing of this removes the removes the role of our justice and law enforcement systems in ensuring that our societies are safe.
None of the questions that we face are easy to resolve. But I am talking about the attitudes of your heart, because as Jesus said,
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. – Luke 6:45.
We cannot put the gospel in a box and quarantine it from how we deal with others, and from real-world issues.
I don’t have all the answers, but I know what the gospel is. And I also know that the gospel means nothing unless we live it out from our hearts.
– Eliezer Gonzalez