Was Jesus a Refugee?

We live in a world that is confused about God, the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ. This confusion shows up in many areas, and even finds its way in current events, culture, and the political climate. So many positions, so many voices, and so many causes. So much confusion, so much pain, and so much anger. Our world is lost, and seeking answers. One of those causes has to do with the displacement of people due to various factors such as war, disasters & poverty. Some are forced to live in other countries, and some go proactively. These people are commonly referred to refugees or immigrants. The issue is a firestorm these days.

This post is not really about refugees or about the best solution for taking care of refugees, and illegal immigration. It is about the person of Jesus, and who He is in regards to this issue. One area of confusion about Jesus is to see the statement “Jesus was a Refugee” displayed on a sign or in a hashtag. The person communicating this might be an atheist, spiritual or they might profess to be a Christian. But, the point of their message is simple. To either persuade Christians to be more supportive regarding refugees & immigrants coming to the U.S. or as ammunition to attack Christians for not going along with their ideologies, and agendas. The latter seems to be the more common use.

In some cases, they will even use bible verses such as Matthew 10:13-15 to support their claim that Jesus was a refugee.

13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

This seems to meet the textbook definition of a refugee which is “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” So there you have it, done deal. Right! Well, not so fast.

That is because Jesus & His family seeking refuge in another region is not the point of the passage. Joseph is not merely reacting to the threat of persecution. There is something supernatural going on in which God directs Joseph, and Joseph responds to God in obedience. The bigger question is who is Jesus?

You see Jesus is not just a person, but He is the Incarnate Word. Jesus is fully human & fully God. We also have to keep in mind that Jesus is also the Messiah; the One that would one day come to deliver the Jewish people. Through out the entire Old Testament there are prophets speaking for God and indicators that would point to who the Messiah would be. The moment Jesus is born the Old Testament prophesies start to become fulfilled. And the act of Joseph fleeing with Mary & Jesus to Egypt is used to fulfill one of those prophesies! The prophet Hosea recounted how God had faithfully brought Israel out of Egypt in the exodus (Hos. 2:15), which Matthew cites in comparing Israel, God’s “son,” being rescued and delivered, to Jesus, the One who will be revealed as God’s true Son. Which the Jewish people were waiting for! They didn’t have the luxury of New Testament, and the plethora of knowledge we have today. They had indicators and again this one just of many to help point the Jewish people (and rest of humanity) to Jesus, and that He was truly the Messiah.

So the passage has greater, and eternal significance than we can immediately see.

I will say personally it is a good thing for people to advocate for refugees & immigrants, that laws should be upheld/followed and Christians should approach the issue with grace, and compassion. I can understand the desire or need for people come to our country. From my perspective America is the best country in the world, and has been a beacon of hope & opportunity since it’s birth. I myself am here because my father came over illegally from Mexico. That’s another story!

But, Jesus & the Bible should never be used as propaganda to further someone’s political views or purposes especially when they neither know Jesus and/or have a hatred toward God. You can’t say the bible is a fairy tale book, and use then use it to make Christians feel guilt or shame.

More importantly, what is the greatest need we all have? We should remind ourselves, and each other of the gospel. While refugees or immigrants have the need or desire to be in America (for example) their greatest need isn’t physical salvation, but spiritual. That humanities hope doesn’t lie in the USA, a political party, or in government. It is only in Christ that eternal security, hope, and assurance is found. That Jesus is not a mere person that needed saving, but is the One who saves. That Jesus is not as a refugee, but our refuge from sin, and death. This needs to be the message.

Advertisements

Trigger Alert: White Privilege

Racism and oppression is a hot topic these days. In learning about these issues I came across this idea called White Privilege, and I find this concept confusing. We know that racism, oppression and injustices exist. You cannot disregard those actions, attitudes or behaviors by those that have committed them or have experienced them. However, a message being communicated and acted on as a solution to racism here in the United States has some major flaws in it. From my understanding there is a claim of systemic & prevailing oppression that is pervasive in American society today. And that in each form of oppression there exists 2 roles.

If you are a white, male, straight able-bodied and/or Christian person then you are:

  •  Part of a dominant group
  • You have received unearned advantage, benefit or privilege

If you are not part of the dominant group then you are:

  • Part of a Targeted group
  • You have been denied advantage, benefit, or privilege
  • You are marginalized

In addition, if you are part of the dominant group then:

  • You need to check your privilege or become more aware of it
  • You are to bear the guilt for these oppression’s
  • You need to assume the role of an Ally, and work to dismantle any form of oppression from which you receive the benefit of
  • You need to talk to others about their privilege
  • You need to take risk and confront others

On the surface it sounds good as you take up the fight against the wrongs of racism, but I have to push back on a couple of different levels. Honestly, from a practical level I just can’t buy it. This is coming from someone who would potentially be considered part of a marginalized group!

The Practical…

It’s just not truthful!

It is deceptive because the truth is that while some people have at times & places experienced some advantage or benefit compared to others and some people at times & places have experienced some disadvantage, challenges, oppression or injustice it’s not factual to say that if you are a white, straight, male then you are privileged & oppressive! Just as it is not factual to say the if you are not a white, straight, male then you are targeted, disadvantaged and oppressed. We can take an honest look at our world and see obvious real world examples were people are disadvantaged, and examples that contradict White Privilege. It’s truth is relative, and not absolute.

It’s political correctness

This concept is deeply tied to being politically correct. It furthers an agenda in controlling others who are not speaking, thinking or acting in ways that are in line with progressiveness. So much that it becomes more about feelings, than truth. It becomes about calling out people that are not inline with this thinking as offensive, oppressive, hateful and racist. It’s do’s and don’ts. Just because I don’t agree with someone or see something the same way does not make me racist.

It’s about guilt and being divisive

If you are a white, straight, male then you are to bear the weight of these systemic oppression, should feel guilty about your privilege, and shame others who are not part of the solution into the desired behavior. This turns your “good” efforts into creating division, and your efforts can become more to do with feeling better about yourself than about the people you claim to care for.

 

I was born here in the U.S. but my dad is from Mexico. Still there in fact after leaving my mother when I was a couple of years old. My mother’s parent were born here but their parents are also from south of the Rio Grande. I grew up East Austin, which used to be the minority side of town, and like most of people there were considered poor. I can even recall seeing and experiencing racism early on. But if you were to persuade me into thinking that I am victim, that white people have some privilege over me, and that I have been targeted, held back, or denied by these dominant groups of people then than would lead me to anger! I would then blame them for where I am in life, and it would be their fault. Not my actions, or poor decisions. Listen, in spite of how I grew up…I have no one else to blame other then myself if I am not happy about my life!

I cannot blame my grandparents, my mom, my dad for not being there, the white man, or the rich! You and I all have the ability to make decisions. Maybe we are placed in unique & challenging facets of life; but we are primarily responsible for ourselves, our actions, and behavior’s. White privilege didn’t make me lazy, skip school, do drugs, have run ins with the police, get someone pregnant right out of high school, not go to college or act irresponsibly with money in my past. So practically this idea that it’s somebody else’s fault for where you are or not is nonsense!

It’s worldly

If you don’t know Jesus then I will most likely lose you at this point. But lastly, it not only completely contradicts the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but at it’s core the message is anti-Christ! White Privilege teaches that Christianity is oppressive. Sadly, I know that some people (who frankly did not and do not know Jesus) have done some hateful things in the name of Christ. However, that it is not a true reflection of Christianity as taught in the bible nor the evidence of in the action of genuine believers. The concept of White Privilege exists in stark contrast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the truths found in Scripture. That racism, injustice, oppression, hate, and the true solutions cannot be found in reading more books on the subject, changing behavior, or making more laws.

The problem is sin…

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom. 3:23)

11 For there is no partiality with God. (Rom. 2:11)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

Jesus said…

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4: 18-19)

 

28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matt. 11:28-29)

In Christ…

There is equality: 

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

You are freed from guilt and shame:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom. 8:1-2)

You have a new identity:

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

We have been set free from the Law…

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)

So what are you to do?

Be careful that you do not confuse being a “good ally” with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is not your responsibility to right the wrongs of sin or bear the weight of the wrongs of others. Jesus already did that at the cross!

If you are a Christian and feel called to act against racism, oppression, and injustice then be sure that you are doing so through the lens of the gospel. Before you go read books or watch documentaries on racism, inequality, and social justice…read the Scriptures! In your desire to be a voice do not leave out the message of the gospel first for yourself, and secondly for others. This is serious! It is absolutely wrong to be a part of or further a message that ultimately attacks the person of Jesus Christ. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern truth from falsehood. Repent if needed.

In our desire and love for those that are truly in need we need to ask ourselves! What is that person’s greatest need? More than justice, equality, happiness or approval?

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37  For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:34-37)

Above everything in this world it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We must remember that our primary calling as Christian’s is to proclaim Jesus, the need for repentance & reconciliation, and the good news of the gospel! Be on mission, but make sure that your mission is Christ’s mission. Only hearts that are truly transformed will bring eternal change to the corruption that exists in our fallen world. A world that is going to perish, but in Christ there is everlasting hope!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.(1 Peter 1:3-5)