Is Your Heart Ready to Help?

As I have been processing my response to the crisis of people on the move, I’ve had a family on my mind. And the more I have thought about them, I realize that understanding their journey is the key to defining our response as the Global Church.

The story of their dangerous travels across deserts, along borders and through cities is well known to many of you. I try to imagine the bags they hurriedly packed in the middle of the night to get out of town. The glances back at their home as they fled … danger behind and danger ahead.

Would they ever return to their home? What would their reception be like in a foreign place? Could they raise a family there?

Like I said, you have heard this family’s story. No, it isn’t a recent Syrian family walking through Europe or a Libyan family bobbing in the Mediterranean. It isn’t even a Latino family making their way across the Sonoran deserts of Mexico.

I’m thinking of Joseph and Mary of Nazareth with little Jesus in tow. Why were they fleeing? Their plight came on the heels of the Christmas miracle which quickly turned into an unimaginable disaster. One day kings were bowing down to their little one and the next day a different king sent troops to kill that child with a viciousness comparable to what we have recently seen from groups like ISIS. Joseph and Mary wanted what so many on the roads of this planet today are searching for; safety and a better life for their child.

Why did God allow His son to live as a refugee? And what should our response be to this supernatural identification God has with those who have fled their homes?

First we should ask, “What purpose did it serve for the Son of God to be a foreigner … a stranger … an unwanted resident … an untrusted imposition?” In Hebrews 4:14-16 we see God’s thinking, “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (The Message, emphasis mine)

I love how Peterson’s paraphrase captures the grit of Jesus’ experience. He suffered all that the refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Haiti and countless other corners of the world are facing. God had Him experience it all so Jesus could offer REAL help to the hundreds of millions of refugees who have walked this earth since Jesus left it.

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Jon serves as the CEO of GMI, a research group focused on helping ministries steward knowledge for impact. Follow him @JonHirstGMI.