Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
An invitation no different than, what you would find on the plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This quote comes from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus. The promise of sanctuary and rest and freedom is one we all seek from across all cultures, races, nation-states, and religions. We seek a release from the burden of oppression and degradation. We seek freedom from bondage and slavery. We seek relief from our struggles with poverty and hunger and strife. We all hope to find a place where we can all prosper as equals.
Jesus offers this promise, even when nations and governments turn their backs on the less fortunate or the persecuted or marginalized. When even just a portion of the United States government seeks to ban immigrants or refugees from various countries whether they are predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East or South American countries, Jesus’ invitation is above politics. Looking out for those among humanity who are suffering, Jesus looks beyond borders and nationality or race and culture. He sees each person as God sees them, one of His creations and someone worthy of salvation and redemption through faith and grace.
The hypocrisy of white Christian Republican Americans who claim to uphold and defend Christian values as their own while denying hospitality and safety to the foreign stranger or refugee in need is astounding! They seem to blatantly ignore Jesus’ teachings and promote exclusion and the denial of respect and dignity and human rights in favor of preserving the sanctity of white upper-middle class Christian America. The Islamophobia and xenophobia among some Republican Christians is disturbing and runs counter to the fundamental teaching of Jesus who asked us to love our neighbors, love the strangers among us, and even love our enemies! By denying those unlike us a chance to lay their burdens down and to find peace from oppression or war, these hypocrites are reinforcing age old arguments of racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural superiority. They are declaring by their actions that some are entitled to more than others and that not all are equally valued creations of God.
Whether we are talking about Syrian or Yemeni refugees, or children fleeing human traffickers in South or Central America, or Mexicans fleeing the violence of well-established drug cartels… or LGBT refugees from Chechnya fleeing genocide in a death camp, we have to act on the promise of Jesus and be willing to love these people as much as we would want to be loved; and would we not want hospitality and safety and sanctuary if the tables were turned upon us and we were in need?