Loving others beyond the bare minimum

Considering one of the main missions of Christians is to love others I’m frankly worried and saddened at what I see and hear from my fellow believers these days. I’ve been worried for awhile but now am starting to understand the level of damage we are doing to our witness if we don’t start doing something to reverse our current attitude and treatment towards people. The people I’m concerned we’re mistreating (for this particular post) are refugees and Muslims… those simply trying to flee the violence we claim to be protecting ourselves from.

Last summer I saw and helped Christians in Lebanon offering what they could to Muslims and Christians fleeing Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East. So do Christians in the Middle East have a greater responsibility to love those that could (or already have) hurt them more than those in the West? If yes why and if not what’s our excuse for supporting a policy that is sending Muslims to their deaths by shutting down part of our refugee program? We (Christians) don’t get a pass on loving others because it might put us or our loved ones at risk.

I’m not ignorant of the fact that our government is responsible for protecting its people but there are ways that can be accomplished compassionately yet securely (and no we are not just letting anyone in). Not to mention our current government seems pretty ignorant of how their current policies could affect our safety now and down the road by turning away those in desperate need today.

Over the years I’ve observed that one of the main values that Christian Americans hold to is taking care of their families. That is rightly important and is something most people do regardless of country or beliefs. For many Christians in the U.S. though I see that value superseding just about everything else in their lives. Safety first. Me and mine are all that matters. Taking care of those you love or agree with is something even Jesus said you don’t get any credit for because thats not being any different than the rest of the world.

“ But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. – Luke 6:27, 31-36

I sometimes wonder why empathy is hard for some people. Is it so difficult to put yourselves in the shoes of people fleeing violence? Is it really hard to imagine what you would do if you were in their place?

Having the opportunities I’ve had in living overseas and now currently with teaching immigrants and attending meetings that help me learn about refugees in my area isn’t something everyone can (or even wants to) do. But we can all do something besides sitting around complaining about or judging others for not doing (whatever they’re doing) the “right” way. Figure out a way to love tangibly beyond those you know or are comfortable around.

Donate, advocate, educate yourself (beyond what you already think you know) and listen to those with experiences different than yours. If you’re truly motivated you will find opportunities to help with whatever causes you care about. And if you find yourself doing absolutely nothing for people affected by the myriad of issues of our day then at least consider keeping your mouth shut. And consider if you are only doing the bare minimum when it comes to loving others.

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