Compassion For Our Neighbors

Maybe, like me, you've read and seen some of the heartwrenching news regarding our southern border over the past couple of weeks. Boston made national news this week as hundreds of Wayfair employees filled Copley Square to protest their employer's sale of beds to migrant detention centers. Today, there is a lot of passion regarding this issue, and much of it is for good reason. By God's grace, we live in a country where we can effect change and have a say in policies. This was not true for much of human history. Therefore, as Christians, we can't stick our head in the sand. We have a responsibility to pay attention and keep our government accountable.

Why should these issues matter to Christians? When Jesus was quizzed on the single greatest commandment, he didn't give one. He gave two. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mt 22:37–39). Was he just bad at math or trying to make a point? I'm going with the latter. To love God rightly requires us to love people. In another well-known passage, Jesus explained that "Neighbor" doesn't just mean the people in our buildings or on our street. Neighbor means all of humanity. So Jesus is telling us that the greatest command is to love God and love people. Whether it's the child in the womb or the child in a detention center on the southern border, these issues matter because these are our neighbors.

Now, what can often happen is our news notifications determine what we're outraged about this week. But this is no way to live. In a week or two when the border is a distant thought, there will still be families crossing the border and seeking asylum from collapsing governments in central America. So we need to act in ways that help, not just because our phones told us to today, but because we love our neighbors every day. That's easier said than done because none of us have the ability to care and think deeply about every problem in the world. That's why God has given a diverse church and places passions in each of our hearts. I would encourage you to pursue kingdom-justice by getting very passionate about a few things. For you, it may be families on the border, but for another, it could be families struggling with homelessness in Boston. Both are important and in both we should love our neighbors.

This week I went searching for ways to help on our southern border. It's pretty complicated. Today, there aren't a lot of actions you can take beyond holding your representatives accountable and voting. But I found some long term ways to help refugees and asylum seekers when they integrate into our city and neighborhoods.

Be available
You probably know what it feels like to need a friend. Refugees are no different. Being available to answer questions without embarrassment goes a long way to building relationships. Sometimes the most basic experiences for Americans is the most unfamiliar to refugees.

Help them integrate into their new community
With some early support, they become productive members of society, starting businesses, creating jobs, or becoming employees themselves. They first need your help practicing their English and getting to know the local community. If you reach out to your local resettlement office, they’ll be able to show you how to make refugees feel at home in their new home.

If you’re an employer, hire a refugee or give them a job interview
Refugees have the drive to succeed in their new country. Statistics show that refugees are very entrepreneurial and innovative. Businesses are already catching on by hiring thousands of refugees each year. Talk to your company or employer about hiring refugees or giving them a chance to get a job.

Stand with refugees
Too often, refugees are being targeted by hateful rhetoric and cruel policies. They need your voice to help stand up for them and the basic principles of refugee resettlement. Refugees have helped make America great and are driven to contribute to the best in our society.

In all cases, respect their past to help build their future
Refugees are frequently dealing with the traumatic effects of fleeing their homes. They often leave negative conditions but leave behind cherished memories, possessions, and loved ones. In many cases, they do not initially need someone to fix their problems; they need someone to care. Your willingness to listen and have empathy are invaluable.

Tomorrow we look at Mark 6:30-44 where we see Jesus have great compassion for people. As always he doesn't just feel compassion and move on, but he does something.

Join us for worship tomorrow!
10:30 AM
Curley K-8
493 Centre St.
Jamaica Plain 02130