…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. [Matthew 25:40]
So like just about everyone else on Planet Earth these last few weeks, my thoughts lately have been consumed by the desperate plight of political refugees.
From the horrifying images of a drowned 3 year old Syrian boy who fell overboard while on a ship headed for Southern Europe to the story of dozens dying and left to rot in a container truck headed for Austria it seems as though we can’t get away from these stories of human suffering. My western lifestyle has afforded me a level of comfort not known to multitudes of my fellow men. It’s easy for us to wring our hands and shake our heads at the inhumanity of it all and ask unanswerable questions about the various cause of suffering and as I sit here in my living room I can insulate myself from the worst of it with the distractions of first world life.
But there is one thing I cannot escape – These men, women and children striving and struggling for a better life, they are my brothers!
It goes all the way back to Genesis.
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:27]
We are all divine image bearers. Humanity, it all its ugliness and suffering is infinitely valuable. Each person has infinite worth. As Victor Hugo put it in Les Miserables:
To Love another person is to see the face of God.
So while all this was floating around in my head I got an email from a local refugee shelter. Apparently a family, mom, dad and 2 month old baby had arrived in the middle of the night. When they announced to the boarder patrol that they were refugees and had nowhere to go they were given the address of the shelter and told “good luck”. These three image bearers of God arrived in Canada with little more than the clothes on their back and were sent to the shelter with nothing more than a handshake. When I heard about this I simply had to act. Babies especially don’t understand what it means to have nothing.
Here’s what I did.
It’s not much, and these new Canadians have an uphill battle ahead of them to get established and make a life here. They will eventually receive some social assistance, get connected with a community and start to settle in. Hopefully they will be able to get work visas, earn an income and build the life they have risked so much to attain. But for now at least, the baby is no longer hungry.
The naysayers will worry about the kinds of people who are coming to our country. They wonder if we aren’t letting in terrorists in disguise. But the fact is we simply can’t think that way. Even the terrorists are at some level image bearers, even if they themselves have forgotten what that means. Our job is to show everyone the love and respect they deserve. If they see God on our faces maybe they will start to see it in themselves, but that’s a discussion for another time.