Recently, I saw a post on Facebook asking one enlightened question: “Would Jesus be at a Trump rally or in the caravan?” The “caravan” is the name used in the media for a large group of refugees that have been heading towards our Texas border who want to seek asylum here in the United States. I believe he’d be walking and talking and protecting the least of these: those in the caravan. He wouldn’t be judging them on why they are leaving their homeland or refuting the people that may have a less than godly past; he would be holding their hands and ushering them along on their journey while spreading love, acceptance, and grace. I know it’s very easy for someone to read this article and just say that I’m some dumb millennial who is way too young to really know the answer to that question or that it’s “more complicated” than that. Is it really though?
The Bible takes on hate and judgment and the failure to accept thy neighbor many times—almost every time it’s Jesus showing up the rich or well-educated of his time and that they’re wrong and that hate is never the answer. In Leviticus 19:18, God commands his people, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s that simple. He doesn’t say only love your neighbor who speaks the same language as you or the one who looks like you. He doesn’t say to only love the ones who are born in your country or come there legally. He simply says “love your neighbor as yourself.” There should be no order to how we present love and care for the people that need it. This phrase is said ten different times by Jesus in the New Testament, so it seems to my understanding that he very intentionally wanted to get this message across.
The Bible speaks to this issue even further. In Luke 1:25-37, Jesus is speaking to “experts in law” about how to inherit eternal life. Besides loving God with all your heart, Jesus also talks about loving one’s neighbor. One of the experts asks Jesus who thy neighbor really is, and Jesus responds with one of the most famous parables in the Bible: the Good Samaritan. This parable describes an injured man who was left on the side of the road to die, and how a priest and Levite would not help him. Both of these people are thought to be highly educated and respected members of society. Both of them moved to the other side of the road to pass him; most likely because they were scared or didn’t think he was their problem because he wasn’t like them. Then a Samaritan comes along the road and stops and takes care of this man. He puts him up in an inn and offers to pay the owner any extra money for his trouble. Jesus’ point in all of this was to show the experts that even if someone is a stranger and not like you, it doesn’t give you an excuse or reason when you fail to help them.
Jesus disputes all exceptions to who “thy neighbor” is throughout his teachings. So, as Christians who some often wear “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets, why should we make exceptions where Jesus did not? This country was built on people seeking asylum. Some took it by force, but others came here wanting safety, religious freedom, and a better life for their children. Whether in a boat, plane, or caravan, legally or illegally, these people are still our neighbors and deserve our help.