Murmuring About Strangers?
We can almost hear ubiquitous murmurs in the air: Our territory is being invaded! No, the invaders are not people invading militarily! They are people running away either from war or poverty (or both). The invaded murmur because foreigners are coming to reap where they didn’t sow. So, who is to blame—the ‘invaders’ for invading or the ‘invaded’ for murmuring? It is important to remember that it is as natural to run away from war and poverty as it is to complain when people come to our territory to reap where they did not sow. For believers however, murmur is not acceptable.
If we have peace in a world of turmoil, people running away from war will come; if we have food in a world of famine, those ravaged by famine will come to us, if we have a house in a world of vagabonds, the latter will always come to ask for a room to put their head. So, as we murmur about the ‘invasion,’ it helps to remember that we could most likely have done the same if we were in the same situation. Through history, human beings have always moved from one place to another.
There is an inborn virtue for humanity to take care of one another. That is why, despite the strict immigration laws in some countries, there are provisions allowing people from troubled areas to enter. Remember that the nations of the world are not Christocracy. This means that the governments’ virtuous policies that extend help to foreigners within and without the country are not informed by Christ’s sermon on the plain. If the secular governments can show goodwill, believers must get their acts together. We understand the universal purpose of God. When God chose Abraham and blessed him, He stated that through Abraham all the nations of the world would bel blessed. Any individual or nation that is blessed is equally assigned the responsibility to be a conduit for that blessing to reach others. We must therefore resist questioning God why He didn’t simplify everything by providing security and resources to everyone in an equal measure. God has told us that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. We can as well braze ourselves to obey and take care of our neighbours.
Jesus story about the Good Samaritan was prophetic in the way He redefined a ‘neighbour.’ From that story, we can see that a neighbour is not just the person with whom we share a locality. Today, the world has become a global village where everybody is a neighbour.
With the proliferation of technological breakthroughs and faster means of transport, people interact across the globe like never before. Whether this interaction is virtual or actual, dealings and feelings are shared across national borders. It is a perfect period in the human history to understand God’s purpose for interaction and interdependence.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” —Luke 16:19-24.
Those who are materially affluent are likely to be spiritually deficient. Those who are spiritually affluent are likely to be materially deficient. God allows it to be affluent in one place and deficient in another in order to encourage complementarity and interdependence. In the same way, God allows one person to be rich and another to be poor. The interdependence between the two is such that the rich materially share his riches with the materially poor. In the same way, the rich spiritually must share the riches with the spiritually poor. This is what the rich man in the story above missed. The rich man had not for a moment thought that the poor Lazarus had some hidden riches.
If God hasn’t given your neighbour what He has given you, be careful for He might have given you your neighbour’s to pass to him. John Wesley captures this essence by asking the questions: