Turning Aside at the Border

29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
Luke 10 (The Message)
An Unidentified Man
We know nothing about the man. Not his height, ethnicity, religion, intelligence, morality, or anything else. We know he’s hurt. That’s it. The question is simple, does his hurt cause us to stop and help?

Or are we too busy? Too afraid? Perhaps we’re not sure if our political party approves our helping him. Maybe we’re on our way to a meeting about tightening security along the Jericho road, “I’ll do him more good by fixing the system that brought him to this,” we might think.[1] Or maybe we become consumed with tweeting our fury at the person we hold responsible for his condition. Or maybe we just don’t think him worthy of our compassion.

He lays there regardless. Covered in mud mixed from blood, sweat, and dust he moves toward death. Jesus paints the picture of his pain. He doesn't answer any of the questions we want him to. He just wants to know, what response will the man's suffering elicit in us?

Suffering at the Border
There is now no denying a humanitarian crisis exists along our southern border. This is not one man beaten along the Jericho road. This is a swath of broken humanity—a flock of desperate people. I do not know how to fix all their problems. I do not pretend to know what our government should do. I know they cannot simply go back. And I know they’re suffering has left me stock still. They’re image, bearing the likeness of our Creator, has distracted me from the road I walk. I cannot look away. I cannot keep on walking. I cannot pass by on the other side.

For me, now is not the time for political bickering, blaming, and gamesmanship. Now is the time to stop, stoop down, and honor the gravity of the pain I see.

I wish that I could snap my fingers and make it all go away—the gangs, the violence, the poverty, the murders, all the horrors which have driven this desperation. I wish I could return to them a homeland they love, complete with inextricable peace. I wish I could convince every American to hear their story, to honor their bravery, their desire to keep their children safe. I wish I could compel politicians to turn their eyes away from next year’s election and work hard to solve these problems and secure and a new home for these brothers and sisters of mine. I can do none of this and it torments me.

I wish I could help my fellow Christ-followers see how their politics have led them away from the agape of Jesus. O that I had a voice that should send thunderous claps of mercy into the souls of the calloused. I wish . . . I wish.

But I cannot. I can only now turn aside and love my wounded neighbor.

Let the bickering come tomorrow. Let the naysaying and the libel flow the next day. But today, let’s stop and see the suffering. Let’s do what we can. Let’s lay aside enough silver to secure a return to goodness and health for people long deprived of it. Let us do this, even though we may never know their names, their nationalities, their stories, their stature. Let us love our neighbors at the border.

A Way to Help
If you’re stirred, I invite you to put together backpacks of supplies for people seeking asylum in El Paso. After initial screenings and paperwork, Customs and Border Protection releases migrants while they await a hearing on their asylum application. Their stay in El Paso can be harrowing. An organization called Preemptive Love is trying to hand out 10,000 of these backpacks this month. If you’d like to know more, click here

Helping those in El Paso is a small step, to be sure. There are plenty of other border towns. Many more asylum-seekers await their fate in migrant camps in Mexico.  If you find a more advantageous outlet for offering humanitarian aid, take it and tell me about it. So too, when tomorrow comes, let us pray for and reach out to those public officials who may have the power and political will to offer more lasting help for those who suffer now. [2]
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
Luke 10 (The Message)

[1] Not that this is bad. Systemic and security fixes need to happen, but the moment you see the guy in the ditch isn’t the moment for it.
[2] I’m using “tomorrow,” figuratively here. I know you can simultaneously help people at the border and pray for and write to public officials. My point is don’t pray and write without also stopping to help. Help first. People desperately need you’re compassion right now. 


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